ARLINGTON, Texas -- There are still many questions the Texas Rangers must answer, assuming they clinch the AL West. And they are close to doing that now. One of the biggest: Who starts Game 1?
Manager Ron Washington has indicated the staff has had internal conversations, but they have yet to make any decisions. But essentially, this comes down to Yu Darvish vs. Matt Harrison, and how those pitchers do in their final full starts might have an impact on who ulitmately gets the call.
Harrison didn't have his best stuff Thursday. He gave up four runs on seven hits in six innings in a 9-7 win over Oakland. He did well, in fact, to get through six innings as he pitched out of a few jams and didn't have much swing-and-miss stuff (he had just two strikeouts, tied for the fewest he's had in a start all season).
Still, Harrison has been the club's most consistent starter all season. He'll get one more chance next week, but the club hopes that's in a game that doesn't matter as much and he could throw just a few innings as part of preparing for the playoffs.
Darvish, scratched from his last start with neck stiffness, pitches Sunday against the Los Angeles Angels. He's got a streak of seven straight quality starts and has pitched deep into games the past month. He's had ace-like stuff in those starts and has shown big-time confidence. Can he keep it up in a game that could be the clincher?
So pay attention this weekend. How Darvish does could impact the decision. As I said last week, I'd pitch Darvish in Game 1 of the playoffs and Harrison No. 2. But there's a strong case for Harrison, who has more postseason experience. Stay tuned.