ARLINGTON — The Rangers' starting rotation was getting close to being ready for the season when Major League Baseball cancelled the remaining Spring Training games.
Their top four starters — Lance Lynn, Mike Minor, Corey Kluber and Kyle Gibson — were up to four to five innings per outing when Spring Training came to an end because of the national emergency over the coronavirus pandemic.
Two questions remain for those starters. One is shared by everybody and that is when will baseball resume? The second is how will any kind of layoff impact the starting pitchers?
“I don’t think it will be too bad,” Gibson said Monday on SiriusXM’s MLB Network Radio. “Guys aren’t going to be taking these next 45 days off. So, I think for us, we are going to be ready whenever the phone call comes and MLB says they're ready.”
This was a big Spring Training for Gibson. The Rangers signed him to a three-year, $28 million contract this offseason in the hopes that he would be able to recover from his battle with ulcerative colitis that zapped his strength last season.
“You are going to have guys who take a week or two off right now just to get acclimated back to their house and stuff,” Gibson said. “But I am going to try and stay as ready as I can and do a couple of bullpens a week.”
Gibson threw three scoreless innings against the Brewers in his last outing on March 7. He added another 15 pitches in the bullpen when he was done, giving him the equivalent of a four-inning outing. Gibson said he would like to do 20- to 30-pitch bullpen sessions during the layoff. He remains in contact with Rangers pitching coach Julio Rangel.
“As long as you are doing 20- to 30-pitch bullpens, it’s two outings to get back to four innings,” Gibson said. “You might even be able to do it on the second outing. So I think the hardest thing will be trying to mimic the level of competition in the bullpen and try to keep the intensity up.”
Gibson was 13-7 with a 4.84 ERA in 29 starts and five relief appearances for the Twins last season. He came down with E. coli last winter, and that led to the revelation he had ulcerative colitis. The condition grew worse as the season progressed, and Gibson finally went on the injured list in September. He now controls it with medication and diet.
Gibson, his wife, Elizabeth, and their two daughters make their home in Villa Ridge, Mo., just outside St. Louis. The Rangers were scheduled to play the St. Louis Cardinals in an exhibition game on Monday at Globe Life Field. It was supposed to be the first game played at the Rangers' new ballpark and preparation for the home opener.