MIAMI -- Right-hander Dustin Nippert will be on the mound for the Rangers, making his first start of the season in the finale against the Marlins on Thursday. The Rangers decided on Nippert over left-hander Matt Harrison because the Marlins have a predominantly right-handed lineup. They faced right-hander Tommy Hunter on Wednesday, and the only left-handed hitter in their lineup was left fielder Chris Coghlan, who was batting leadoff. "We feel like the right-hander has a better chance," manager Ron Washington said. "Nippert has a good breaking ball and changeup. He can equalize that."
This is one reason why Nippert is on the roster. One of his strengths is being able to start or relieve on a moment's notice. "I don't know ... we'll find out," Nippert said. "It's the first time doing it this year. I don't have any expectations, I just want to keep the bullpen out of the game as long as I can." Nippert is 2-3 with a 4.60 ERA in 22 relief appearances this year. Last year, he was 3-3 with a 4.65 ERA in 10 starts, and 2-0 with a 1.86 ERA as a reliever. His longest outing this season is three innings and 47 pitches against the Blue Jays on May 14. He threw 37 pitches over two innings against the Rays on June 6, and has pitched just once since then. He threw 22 pitches over 1 1/3 innings against the Mariners last Thursday in Arlington. He has not pitched on the road trip. "We'll let him go as long as he can," Washington said. "We know he's a guy who can give us 50-60 pitches. We'll let him go as long as we can. We're not looking for seven or eight innings." This spot in the rotation will come up again on Wednesday against the Pirates. Washington said the Rangers will decide later if it will be Nippert again, Harrison or somebody from the Minors.