ARLINGTON, Texas -- When Tanner Scheppers toes the rubber in a few hours, he'll be more than just the second pitcher since 1945 to make his first big league start in his team's opener. He'll also be the first with at least 100 career relief appearances (115) to make his first career start in the majors on Opening Day.
And while the Rangers aren't expecting Scheppers to go out and throw a complete-game, five-hit shutout like Fernando Valenzuela did in 1981 for the Los Angeles Dodgers over the Houston Astros, they hope the 27-year-old can steady his nerves and keep them in the game against former Ranger Cliff Lee.
Scheppers is also the fourth-youngest Texas pitcher to start on Opening Day. The youngest was Jose Guzman (22) in 1986.
Scheppers continues the Rangers' trend of a different Opening Day starter now going on six seasons. The last pitcher to throw back-to-back Opening Day games was Kevin Millwood, who started from 2006 to 2009.
Scheppers was 1-1 with a 3.07 ERA in spring training with 14 strikeouts and four walks in four games (three starts) in A games. Opponents hit just .208 against him. He threw 13 pitches in one inning of work in Thursday's exhibition to be ready for today.