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Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Manager’s choice: Did Nippert earn it?

By Jeff Caplan

SAN FRANCISCO -- In a matter of hours, Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington will have to turn in his completed 25-man roster. Holding up the works is his decision about the bullpen.

The predominantly right-handed hitting San Francisco Giants likely demand another right-hander reliever. The Rangers carried four lefties into the ALCS, but Clay Rapada is the most probable southpaw to sit out the World Series. But, which right-handed arm gets the call?

Mark Lowe, Scott Feldman and Dustin Nippert are Washington's choices. Only Nippert has made a postseason roster so far, making one appearance in the ALDS. Lowe hasn't pitched much since returning from surgery for a herniated disc. Feldman, the Opening Day starter who dropped out of the rotation shortly after the All-Star break, just hasn't had his stuff, even in relief.

Then there's Nippert. The 6-foot-8, 225-pounder has pitched well since coming of a six-week stint on the disabled list after frighteningly taking an Austin Jackson line drive off his head in a July game in Detroit. He came off the DL on Sept. 2 and has pitched some of his best baseball of the season.

In 10 relief outings, Nippert has logged 14 2/3 innings, allowing two earned runs on eight hits. Nippert would provide Washington with a right-handed long reliever to go with lefty Derek Holland.

Among those three right-handed arms, has Nippert earned the right to pitch in the World Series?