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Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Why not start Justin Grimm on Saturday?

By Richard Durrett

There's certainly a lot of chatter about Saturday's starter and many of you continue to ask me about it on Twitter and email. With Alexi Ogando on the disabled list, joining Derek Holland and Neftali Feliz as injury casualties, the Texas Rangers must find a starter to take Ogando's place Saturday.

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The club is sorting through the options and doesn't have to make any decisions until later in the week. The Rangers can wait and see how things unfold. Michael Kirkman, who has started five games in Triple-A Round Rock since May 6, was recalled and is a possibility for Saturday should he not be needed for too much bullpen duty before then. Robbie Ross gave the club four scoreless innings Sunday, but manager Ron Washington made it clear Tuesday that he doesn't want Ross leaving the bullpen. The skipper believes that without Ogando, Ross is the versatile piece he must have to get through short starts. Plus, he's not fully stretched out anyway. Washington has indicated the club will look everywhere -- that includes the minors -- for that Saturday starter.

As we discussed some the last two days, to me the guy that deserves that shot the most is 23-year-old Justin Grimm. I got a chance to see Grimm pitch Sunday and he certainly made a strong case to me (I took my family out to the RoughRiders game and let me throw out a free plug for the Frisco atmosphere. If you've got young kids that have trouble sitting still, it's a good place to go as a warmup before taking them to a Rangers game). Grimm, the club's fifth-round choice in the 2010 draft, showed solid command and a fastball that was hitting 93 mph on the park's radar gun. He has a curve and changeup and wasn't afraid to throw his off-speed stuff in a variety of different counts.

His numbers show he's been consistent so far this season. Grimm is 8-3 with a 1.87 ERA in 13 starts (77 innings) at Double-A in 2012. He has 67 strikeouts to only 14 walks. Opponents are batting .228 against him. (Grimm was 7-3 with a 3.39 ERA in 25 starts split between Class A Hickory and Myrtle Beach in 2011.)

Grimm gave up three runs Sunday -- all of them on a three-run homer to former UTA star Michael Choice -- but went seven innings with one walk and eight strikeouts. Only twice has Grimm not pitched at least five innings this season and six of his last seven outings are quality starts.

Why not give Grimm a taste of the big leagues by throwing him in there against the Houston Astros? There's always a risk of having a rocky start that hurts his confidence, but in talking with Grimm a month ago, I got the sense that he had the type of personality and inner confidence that he'd be fine even if things didn't go well.

Grimm is stretched out and has been starting all season. He started Sunday, so he could get a few extra days and be fully rested to start Saturday. Grimm is not on the 40-man roster, so the Rangers would have to make a move if the club were to go that route.

Other minor-league pitchers who could get a look include Martin Perez and Neil Ramirez, but both have struggled and don't appear ready.

What do you think? Should Grimm get the nod Saturday? If not, who would you prefer to see and why? Is there someone else in the minors that deserves the spot more than Grimm that I'm not thinking about?