ARLINGTON -- Doug Mathis is staying in the Rangers rotation, Robinson Tejeda is joining the bullpen and Kason Gabbard is going down to Triple-A Oklahoma. Those are the latest moves made by the Rangers to reinforce a pitching staff that went into Friday's game against the Athletics with a 4.81 team ERA, tied with the Tigers for the highest in the American League. Gabbard was sent down after going 0-2 with an 8.83 ERA in his past four starts while walking 16 in his past 17 1/3 innings.
"We felt like for his continued development and for the organization, it's important for him to go down and find the strike zone," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He's capable and he's healthy but he has been very inconsistent. Being in a less stressful environment should help him. Once he gets back on track, he'll be right back here." Mathis made two starts while Kevin Millwood was on the disabled list with a strained right groin. He was supposed to go back to Triple-A Oklahoma, then the Rangers decided to put him in the bullpen. Now they are keeping him in the rotation, and he'll start on Tuesday against the Indians. Mathis allowed eight runs, including six earned, in an 11-4 loss to the Twins in his first start, but came back strong on Sunday against the Indians. In that start, he allowed just one run in six innings while going up against Cy Young Award winner C.C. Sabathia and the Rangers ended up winning, 2-1, in 10 innings. "I like the way he fights and throws four pitches over the plate," Washington said. "He has pitched well for us, that's why we're giving him the ball." Mathis has also made three appearances in relief since being called up on May 11 and pitched a scoreless inning each time out. Now he gets a chance to earn a permanent spot in the rotation rather than being considered just a fill-in measure. "It gives me a little more assurance that I'm going to be here for the near future," Mathis said. "I can't relax but it's definitely a confidence booster when anybody wants you to stay around." Tejeda, who has been in and out of the Rangers rotation for the past two years, was called up after going 1-1 with a 2.18 ERA in 10 games for Oklahoma. He started the season in the bullpen but moved to the rotation because pitching coach Andy Hawkins felt it would give Tejeda more time to work on some things between starts and also more innings to work on them during the game. Tejeda's numbers in his four starts were terrific. He pitched 24 1/3 innings and allowed just three runs on 11 hits and six walks while striking out 28. But the Rangers still see him better-suited to be in the bullpen right now rather than going back into the rotation. "At some point we haven't ruled it out," general manager Jon Daniels said. "But right now we're looking at him helping out in the bullpen." Tejeda made 33 starts for the Rangers over the past two seasons and went 10-14 with a 5.59 ERA while walking 92 and striking out just 109 in 169 innings. He had trouble smoothing out an erratic delivery and he dropped off the depth chart in Spring Training. But the Rangers are hoping his work with Hawkins has helped straightened out his delivery. "Any situation I can help in, I'll do," Tejeda said. "My dream is to be a starting pitcher but if I'm a reliever, the only thing I can do is prepare my mind to do that."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.