ARLINGTON, Texas -- We know that Texas Rangers ace Yu Darvish will pitch for the first time in 2014 on Sunday in Tampa. What we don't know is who he will replace when the club returns home next weekend from its first road trip of the season.
Darvish means that right now there are six starters in the club's five-man rotation. And that's OK, thanks to the schedule. Joe Saunders will pitch Friday in Tampa, followed by Nick Martinez and Darvish. Then Tanner Scheppers, Martin Perez and Robbie Ross will take the mound in the three-game set at Fenway Park next week.
After that, a decision must be made. Martinez seems like a logical candidate, in that he's got options, but what if Saunders' spring training numbers turn into regular season numbers in Tampa?
The bottom line: The Rangers aren't saying anything right now, and they shouldn't. Let things play out the next week and then make the call.
Manager Ron Washington said the decision to start Darvish on Sunday instead of waiting to roll him out at Fenway Park was more about getting his best pitcher in the rotation as soon as possible. The Rangers weren't worried about how their young pitchers might handle things in Boston, though it's going to be interesting to watch next week.