ARLINGTON -- Josh Lindblom, who was acquired from the Phillies during the offseason in the Michael Young trade, has never started in the Major Leagues. But he made his third start and fourth appearance for Triple-A Round Rock on Saturday, holding New Orleans to one run in five innings. He allowed four hits and two walks while striking out seven.
Lindblom, who made 101 appearances in relief for the Dodgers and Phillies over the previous two seasons, is now 2-0 with a 1.06 ERA. Lindblom came to Spring Training as a strong candidate for the Rangers bullpen. But when he didn't make the big league roster, he and the Rangers talked about taking a shot as a starter in the Minor Leagues.
"We stretched him out to 95 pitches last night," said Danny Clark, the Rangers Minor League pitching coordinator. "He's using his changeup more in this role as opposed to the last couple of years being in the bullpen. The early part of the season has been encouraging from standpoint he wants to start and every outing we are seeing better quality of pitches."
Lindblom's development comes at a time when the Rangers are concerned about their starting pitching depth in the Minor Leagues. Those concerns were reinforced when Nick Tepesch had to come out of Saturday's game after getting hit by a line drive in the right arm. Tepesch is fine, but another pitching injury could leave the Rangers scrambling for a starter without robbing their bullpen.
The Rangers lost pitcher Martin Perez to a broken arm when he was hit by a line drive in Spring Training. Perez is still working out in Arizona and could be out for another month.
Cody Buckel is another concern. He is the Rangers' fourth-highest-rated prospect by MLB.com, but he is off to a rough start. He has made three starts at Double-A Frisco and has allowed 15 runs in just six innings. Six of the runs are unearned, but he has walked 16 batters.
The Rangers need starting pitching depth, and Lindblom is starting to provide it.
"Reports have been good," general manager Jon Daniels said. "It's three quality pitches for strikes [plus working on a curveball] on a physical frame that can handle the innings. It's early, but it looks like he's taken to the role well."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.