SUPRISE, Arizona (KETK) – Call it what you want, tandem pitchers, piggybacking or creative coaching. Chris Woodward and the Texas Rangers are going to try something new with their rotation in 2021.

With three conventional starters at the top of the rotation, on the fourth and fifth days, Woodward plans to send a pair of starters to the mound. For the time being, Mike Gibson, Kohei Arihara, and Mike Foltynewicz are the three-man rotation.

Dane Dunning, Kyle Cody, Kolby Allard, Jordan Lyles, Wes Benjamin and Taylor Hearn are competing to pitch on days four and five.

“Listen, if one of these guys takes off and just absolutely dominates, maybe we extend it, but I think early on I’d like to see these guys prove that they can go out and dominate for three or four innings, and then we extend them as opposed to just saying ‘Okay, we’re going to give this guy a start every five days and hope it works out,'” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said.

“I always want to get as many innings as I can,” Rangers pitcher Dane Dunning said. “I want to try to get out there and produce each start or each outing that I get, I want to produce as many innings, as many outs as I can get.”

“I know they want to be traditional starters,” Woodward said. “They have to prove that. For some of these guys it’s more of a health thing, some of them had numbers in the past but they didn’t pitch last year, so there’s a lot of factors in this and the reason we kind of went down this road.”

While Woodward hasn’t decided which tandems will be paired, he says pitchers with differing styles will be together.

“We don’t want a guy to pitch on two days rest and then come back and pitch seven days later,” Woodward said. “We want to make sure there’s some consistence to what they’re doing, and that’s the challenge of it all.”

As if managing the game of baseball wasn’t challenging enough.