Texas Rangers: Clay Rapada

Rangers place Rapada on release waivers

January, 14, 2011
The Rangers announced today that the club has placed left-handed pitcher Clay Rapada on release waivers for the purpose of giving him his unconditional release. Rapada was designated for assignment, along with catcher Max Ramirez, on Jan. 3 when the club signed pitchers Brandon Webb and Arthur Rhodes.

Rapada, 29, posted a 1.82 ERA (12 ER/59.1 IP) over 50 games with Oklahoma City (AAA) in 2010, then made 13 relief appearances with Texas as a September call-up. He was on the Rangers American League Championship Series roster and made 3 appearances in that series.

Manager’s choice: Did Nippert earn it?

October, 27, 2010
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?

World Series position outlook: Bullpen

October, 27, 2010
We now shift our attention to the pitching staff for our brief World Series position outlooks. Let's look at the bullpen.

The Rangers had one of the top relief corps in the majors this season. And while they did blow some late leads, they were reliable, gave the club innings when needed and got the job done.

But the injury to Frank Francisco changed things dramatically for the postseason. He wasn't there for the ALDS or ALCS and it impacted how manager Ron Washington set things up in the late innings, specifically the eighth.

The bullpen didn't have impressive numbers against Tampa Bay, struggling in both home games in the series. They weren't needed in Game 5 as Cliff Lee went the distance. In Game 1 of the ALCS, the bullpen blew a four-run lead in the eighth as a parade of relievers couldn't get the Yankees out.

But they bounced back. The bullpen did the job in Game 2 to help the Rangers preserve the win and head to Yankee Stadium with a split. Big offensive outings meant they weren't under much pressure in the two wins in New York, though they pitched well when things were close in Game 4 before Bengie Molina's homer broke things open.

Derek Holland was a prime example of someone bouncing back. After giving up a two-run homer against Tampa Bay in Game 4 that stretched the Rays lead, Holland settled down and pitched three scoreless innings after that. He then carried over the momentum into the Yankees series. Holland pitched well enough that he's garnered consideration as a starter in the World Series.

Of course, if the starters go six innings, Washington is able to better set things up in the pen. But Darren O'Day and Darren Oliver will continue to be the prime setup men. Alexi Ogando gets his shot, but the club is hestitant to use him with men on base because he has a history of allowing inherited runners to score. Clay Rapada is a situational lefty, so he's not likely to go more than a few batters.'

One thing to watch for me: Neftali Feliz. He didn't get the chance to come in and pitch in a really close game late because the Rangers didn't really have one against the Yankees (outside of Game 1 when things had fallen apart before he was needed). How does he respond when a save is on the line in the World Series? Probably just fine. But it would be fun to find out.

San Francisco has a very good bullpen as well, including the bearded closer Brian Wilson. It will be an interesting matchup.

Righty Mark Lowe waiting to get roster call

October, 26, 2010
SAN FRANCISCO -- Mark Lowe is waiting patiently for Texas Rangers manager Ron Washigton to finalize the 25-man roster for the World Series.

"I'm as ready as I can be," Lowe said. "I feel in midseason form right now."

Washington is contemplating adding at least one more right-handed reliever to bolster the bullpen against the predominantly right-handed hitting San Francisco Giants. The Rangers had four lefties in the bullpen against the New York Yankees. Clay Rapada and/or Michael Kirkman could be replaced by Lowe, who was acquired in the Cliff Lee deal. Lowe was injured at the time, recovering from surgery to repair a herniated disc he suffered attempting to field an Elvis Andrus bunt during a game in Seattle in May.

Washington said he will wait until Wednesday morning's deadline to complete the roster.

"I feel like I could be [added to the roster]," Lowe said. "But, I don't want to get my hopes up too high for an experience like this. It's in the back of mind, but just being here is amazing."

Lowe got into three games at the end of the season. In three total innings, he allowed four runs on seven hits.

How Rangers pitching held NYY in Game 2

October, 17, 2010
ESPN Stats & Information provided this look at how the Rangers were able to hold down the Yankees in a 7-2 win in Game 2 of the ALCS.

First, starter Colby Lewis:

* Lewis used the curveball as his out pitch and it worked well. The Yankees went 0-for-4 with a strikeout.

* Lewis struck out six Yankee hitters, with four of them coming on pitches out of the zone.

* Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez went a combined 0-for-6 against Lewis.

Here's how the Rangers' bullpen bounced back from a rough Game 1 to finish off NYY in Game 2:

* Clay Rapada threw seven sliders in nine pitches to finish out the sixth with a strikeout of Marcus Thames.

* In the 7th, Alexi Ogando threw 25 pitches (23 fastballs) that averaged 97 mph and topped out at 99 mph. Despite allowing a hit to Alex Rodriguez that put Mark Teixeira in scoring position, Ogando struck out Robinson Cano on a 97 mph fastball.

* After an 8th inning where they lost the lead on Friday, the Darren's (Oliver and O'Day) threw 12 of their 16 combined pitches inside to hitters, which led to a strikeout and two groundouts.

* Rookie of the Year candidate Neftali Feliz came out throwing gas in the 9th, averaging 98 mph and maxing out at 100 mph (on a radar gun at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington known as 'The Humbler' by the staff because it seems to be a tick or two lower than other parks). The same five hitters who saw Ogando in the 7th met fireballer Feliz in the 9th, and despite 2 walks, Feliz got of out of danger and the Rangers to a 7-2 win.

Bullpen fails Rangers who suddenly trail

October, 15, 2010
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers' bullpen was in full implode mode in the top of the eighth inning as the New York Yankees struck for five runs to take a 6-5 and completely stunned the 50,000-plus fans at Rangers Ballpark.

The five pitchers used by the Rangers in the inning tied an ALCS record for most pitchers used in one inning. It took the fifth, Derek Holland, to stop a string of seven consecutive Yankees batters from reaching base.

C.J. Wilson started the inning lead 5-1. But, a tremendous hustle play by Brett Gardner, diving into first and beating the toss from Mitch Moreland to Wilson got the ball rolling. Derek Jeter doubled to score Gardner and that was it for Wilson.

Darren Oliver, who walked the only two batters he faced, Darren O'Day and Clay Rapada failed to get an out. Alex Rodriguez drove in two with a single off O'Day and Robinson Cano tied it with a base hit up the middle off of Rapada. Holland entered and surrendered a shot to left from Marcus Thames. That drove in Rodriguez to give the Yankees a 6-5 lead.

And it could have been worse. Jorge Posada sent a drive to the right-field wall that Nelson Cruz grabbed for the first out. He struck out Curtis Granderson for the second out and then Gardner, who started the inning off, bounced out to shortstop.

Two lefties gives Ron Washington options

October, 15, 2010
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Rangers manager Ron Washington said the front office staff and the coaches talked Thursday night and Friday morning about the roster decisions before deciding to go with both lefties Clay Rapada and Michael Kirkman.

Washington said the club wanted the lefties to counter the Yankees' left-handed and switch hitters.

It gives Washington a chance to use Rapada, a situational lefty, against a left-handed hitter like Robinson Cano earlier in the game (like the fifth or sixth inning) and still have some additional left-handed options if needed later in the game. Rapada is not likely to face a switch hitter. He'll be used to get that tough left-handed hitter when Washington feels like he needs him.

Kirkman can get both right-handers and left-handers, so Washington also has an opportunity to save Darren O'Day to use later in the game if needed, like the eighth inning rather than the sixth or seventh. That could become important in how Washington matches things up late in games without the services of hard-throwing right-hander Frank Francisco, who is injured and would normally pitch the eighth.

Keep an eye on that bullpen. A Rapada vs. Cano at-bat in the second half of the game could be very interesting.

Matt Treanor to start; roster, 1B undecided

October, 14, 2010
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Matt Treanor will catch C.J. Wilson in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series Friday night at Rangers Ballpark, his first action since Game 2 of the ALDS when Wilson was also on the mound.

Rangers 3B Michael Young discusses preparing to face the Yankees in the ALCS, C.J. Wilson, Josh Hamilton and Texas' 2010 season.

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As for who will start at first base, Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington said that remains a topic of disussion. Against New York Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia, Washington's choices are the right-hand hitting Jorge Cantu or lefty rookie Mitch Moreland.

Washington said he has not yet decided on which pitcher he will add to the 25-man roster, which must be completed by 10 a.m. Friday. The Rangers will drop pinch-runner Esteban German and add an 11th pitcher for the best-of-7 ALCS. The most likely candidates are lefty relievers Clay Rapada, Michael Kirkman or Matt Harrison.

As for the first-base discussion, Washington platooned Cantu and Moreland during the regular season, but he stuck with Moreland against Tampa Bay Rays lefty David Price in Game 5 of the ALDS because Moreland played in Games 2, 3 and 4 and Washington said he didn't want to go back to a cold Cantu.

Moreland has never faced Sabathia. Cantu is 1-for-12 in his career against the big lefty with four strikeouts. He did not face Sabathia this season.

"Whatever his decision is, I'll be ready either way," Moreland said. "If he calls for me being on the bench and supporting them, I'll be there. If he calls me late in the game to pinch-hit, I'll be there. If I need to run, defense, whatever, I'll be ready to go."

Moreland was 4-for-20 (.200) against left-handed pitchers during the regular season and said he feels comfortable in the box against southpaws.

"I've always felt like that was something I could do. I've never doubted myself vs. a lefty or felt uncomfortable against a lefty. I've always tried to stick with my game plan and I felt like if I did that -- lefty, right, whomever -- that I would be all right."

Behind the plate, Treanor hasn't played since last Thursday in the Rangers' 6-0 win. He had one of the stranger postseason games in that he was hit in the back by Rays starter James Shields on consecutive lead-off at-bats and both innings results in runs. Treanor has become something of C.J. Wilson's personal catcher. Bengie Molina is expected to start Game 2.

"C.J. is a guy that has a lot of movement on his pitches and throws a lot of breaking balls and Treanor is very good with balls in the dirt and he also calls a a pretty good game," Washington said. "The times he's caught C.J., he's done a good job of getting him through the innings. I want to have him to be a part of this, also, and the one opportunity I give him is with C.J."

Rangers must decide which pitcher to add

October, 14, 2010

The Rangers have until 10 a.m. Friday to set their playoff roster for the American League Championship Series.

Manager Ron Washington said Wednesday that he's going to carry 11 pitchers, meaning pinch-runner Esteban German (who wasn't used in the ALDS) will not be on the roster.

It's likely that additional pitcher will be a lefty, meaning the candidates are Clay Rapada, Michael Kirkman and Matt Harrison. Each offers a different option for the Rangers depending on what they feel is the best use of the bullpen.

Rapada is a situational lefty. He would come in for one or two batters and that's about it. He was good in that role after he was called up. Left-handed batters had just one hit in 19 at-bats against him. He had four strikeouts and two walks. His delivery makes him difficult to deal with in short doses.

Kirkman gives the club a little more length, but with the odd numbers of being better against right-handed hitters. Righties and lefties faced Kirkman for 28 at-bats each in 2010 and left-handed batters had three more hits (.214 average as opposed to .107). But the Rangers have confidence in Kirkman's ability to get both out, meaning he can stay in for an inning or two if he's pitching well. Kirkman, a starter in the minors, pitched at least 1 1/3 innings in six of his 14 appearances in the big leagues.

Harrison was moved to the bullpen and out of the rotation in June after returning from injury. He was 2-1 with a 4.26 ERA in 44 1/3 relief innings this season. In fairness, his bullpen ERA went up nearly a full point thanks to one outing in Oakland in September (gave up five runs on three hits in two-thirds of an inning).

The question would be which pitcher best fits the Yankees. The club has left-handed hitters Robinson Cano, Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson. They also have a gaggle of switch hitters -- Mark Teixeira, Ramiro Pena, Lance Berkman, Nick Swisher and Jorge Posada.

Going with the lefty makes sense in that, as you'd expect, Cano, Gardner and Granderson each bat on average 30 points better against a right-handed pitcher. And turning Berkman around certainly is smart (.267 as left-handed hitter, .171 as right-handed hitter). Same goes for Pena if he gets in. Teixeira is 40 points better batting right-handed, but has a .278 average against left-handed pitching.

The club must figure out if they'd use a situational left-hander. Cano isn't coming out of the lineup for a pinch-hitter. He hits .285 against left-handed hitters and .337 against righties. He's never faced any of the three lefties up for discussion for the final spot. The other true left-handed hitters could be pinch-hit for if needed.

It's an interesting call. Would you go with the situational lefty for that one tough hitter late in games (knowing you've got Darren Oliver and Derek Holland as lefties down there) or do you go with a pitcher you're confident can get hitters from either side out to counter what Joe Girardi might do with his pinch hitters?

Roster set: 10 pitchers, pinch runner included

October, 6, 2010
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Rangers have set their 25-man playoff roster for the ALDS, going with 10 pitchers and six bench players. The club had to decide which final arms to put in the bullpen and went with Derek Holland, leaving off both Clay Rapada and Michael Kirkman.

On the bench, that leaves Andres Blanco (utility infielder), David Murphy (extra outfielder who is progressing nicely from the strained left groin), Mitch Moreland (first base), Matt Treanor (catcher) and Julio Borbon (outfield).

Here's the full roster:

Starters: Cliff Lee, C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis, Tommy Hunter (4)

Bullpen: Neftali Feliz, Darren O'Day, Darren Oliver, Alexi Ogando, Dustin Nippert, Derek Holland (6)

Infielders: Jorge Cantu, Mitch Moreland, Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus, Michael Young, Andres Blanco (6)

Outfielders: David Murphy, Julio Borbon, Josh Hamilton, Jeff Francoeur, Nelson Cruz (6)

Catchers: Bengie Molina, Matt Treanor (2)

DH: Vladimir Guerrero (1)

PR: Esteban German (1)

Game thoughts: Rangers hit 90 wins

October, 2, 2010
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers defeated the Angels, 6-2, behind good late offense and solid pitching. A few thoughts:

* That's 90 wins for the Rangers. They haven't had that many since 1999, when the club was 95-67, the best mark in franchise history, as the won their third AL West title in four seasons.

* The Rangers won't find out who they play in the ALDS until Sunday. The Yankees are currently playing the Red Sox in the second game of a doubleheader. If the Yankees win, they will be a game up on the Rays for the AL East lead. Should the Rays end up tying it, they own the tiebreaker and would play the Rangers. If the Red Sox win the second game of the doubleheader, the Rays and Yankees would be tied going into Sunday's play. So we'll wait to see what happens.

* Josh Hamilton hit a two-run homer in the fifth to give the Rangers the lead. It was his first hit since returning to the lineup after rehabbing his fractured ribs. Hamilton had several good at-bats in the game and it appears his timing is just fine. He ended up 2-for-4 with a sacrifice fly and hit the ball hard. More on Hamilton coming up.

* C.J. Wilson struggled in the first inning, throwing 36 pitches and giving up three hits and two walks. But he bounced back nicely to get to out of a bases-loaded, no hit jam after the game was already 2-0 so that the damage was limited. He ended up pitching five innings (he was taken out because the club wanted to see Derek Holland pitch as a means of evaulating him) and gave up just one hit in the final four innings he was in the game. Wilson earned his 15th win.

* Michael Young had three hits in the game and also a sacrifice fly. He was hitting just .196 over his last 13 games before Saturday, but he hit the ball to all fields and had solid at-bats. He also was aggressive on the bases, tagging up on a fly ball in the seventh to get into scoring position with one out (he later scored).

* Mitch Moreland, once again, looked comfortable at the plate. He had a walk in the second inning on an eight-pitch at-bat after falling behind 1-2. He was intentionally walked with two runners on and two outs in the seventh to load the bases. The Angels decided to pitch to Matt Treanor instead and he walked to drive in a run.

* The Rangers scored three runs in the seventh inning to extend the lead. They did it with three singles and three walks.

* Derek Holland, one of the candidates for a postseason bullpen spot, pitched two shutout innings. He gave up a one-out double in the sixth, but got out of it. He gave up two long fly balls but looked confident. He could give the Rangers some length if needed and can get lefties and righties out. So he's tempting to include on the roster.

* Darren O'Day was sharp. He was given some time off and came on in the eighth to and got the Nos. 3-5 hitters. He struck out Torii Hunter and Juan Rivera and got Howie Kendrick to fly out.

* Clay Rapada came in for the ninth inning of a 6-2 game and gave up a ground ball single to left field and walked Mike Napoli. So with the tying run in the on-deck circle, it became a save situation and manager Ron Washington went to Neftali Feliz.

*Feliz got his 40th save of the season. The last Ranger to have 40 or more saves was Francisco Cordero with a club-record 49 in 2004.

Clay Rapada throws 2 scoreless frames

September, 28, 2010
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Side-arming lefty Clay Rapada has thrown his hat in the ring as a candidate for the playoff roster. Rapada worked a lightning-quick sixth inning, retiring the Mariners in order.

Rapada pitched another scoreless inning in the seventh, but needed some defensive help. David Murphy cut down Adam Moore trying to stretch a single and Andres Blanco ranged left with a dive to turn Josh Wilson’s ground ball into a force play at second.

Seattle leads, 3-1, going to the eighth inning. thanks to Justin Smoak’s two-run home run in the fourth, his second home run against his former team in as many nights.

Competition heats up for 1B playoff spot

September, 26, 2010

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Rangers have a week to figure out the final few pieces of their playoff roster.

So, not unlike a spring training competition, players that are in contention for those spots were on the field for a 16-9 Rangers win that felt more like a game at Surprise Complex in March.

But one of the tougher decisions the club must make is which left-handed hitting first baseman -- Mitch Moreland or Chris Davis -- to put on the 25-man postseason roster joining the right-handed hitting Jorge Cantu.

Moreland started to make his case Sunday. After going through a recent slump -- 4-for-25 (.160) with 11 strikeouts in his last eight games before Sunday -- Moreland belted two homers in a 3-for-6 day that included a career-high 5 RBIs.

"I've been trying to work hard," Moreland said. "The last couple of days I've had off I've worked with Clint and Johnny to make sure I'm seeing the ball and put some good swings on it. I got a few pitches today and was able to barrel them up."

Moreland said he wanted to try to relax and slow things down.

"I've been pressing a little," Moreland said. "I think you'll hear that a lot the past couple of games. But today, it was a little easier to relax. We got everything out of the way and everybody was calm."

The last few weeks, Chris Davis has come on to make the competition for that first-base spot an interesting one. He was a late-inning defensive replacement for Moreland and has had solid at-bats both as a pinch-hitter and a starter. Before Sunday, he was 4-for-9 with a homer and four walks in 10 games since being recalled.

But Sunday was different. Moreland looked more like the guy that turned heads when he was called up in late July and worked his way into the lineup. And Davis struggled, going 0-for-6 with two strikeouts. He was the only Ranger in the starting linepu that didn't have at least two hits on a day when Texas hit a season-high 22 of them.

It's worth noting that this is just one game. The Rangers aren't going to make any decisions based on that (just like they wouldn't at spring training). They have to consider all parts of the game -- both pinch-hitter offensive production and glove work for close games.

"We've got a whole lot of games left," manager Ron Washington said. "We haven't made any decisions."

Washington said Moreland had a great game.

"Maybe he's back to the way he was earlier. He had good passes [with the bat] and better timing."

Other reaction and thoughts:

* The Rangers have 87 wins, matching their total from 2009. With seven games left in the regular season, they need five wins on this final homestand to reach club president Nolan Ryan's prediction of 92 victories.

* Texas went 5-5 on this 10-game road trip after winning four of the last five. They finish the season 39-42 on the road.

* RHP Colby Lewis is tuning up for the postseason. Sunday wasn't a bad way to start. He gave up one run on six hits in six innings with six strikeouts and a walk. He threw 101 pitches and 69 were strikes. He had all of his pitches working and didn't get into much trouble, scattering the hits.

"I just want to try to go out and put a quality start up and if I do that, everything kind of takes care of itself and those guys usually come through and you've done your job," Lewis said. "I want to stay in a rhythm, keep my pitch count up and get the rest that I need."

* OF Jeff Francoeur was 4-for-6 with a homer and 4 RBIs on Sunday. He is now 14-for-31 (.452) with 11 RBIs in his last eight games and is batting .385 (15-for-39) since joining the Rangers. He credits batting coach Clint Hurdle and Johnny Narron (special assignment coach) for harping on him about getting ready early.

"They want me prepared earlier, before the pitch comes and that's something I wasn't doing," Francoeur said. "It's definitely helped me. I'm seeing more pitches and am able to attack."

* LHP Clay Rapada gave up two runs on two hits in one inning on the mound and has given up runs in his last two appearances (he gave up the homer to Cliff Pennington in the seventh inning on Saturday). But Washington correctly noted that it's tough to evaluate most guys the day after a clinching game. Rapada faced four left-handed hitters during his outing and walked two of them. He did get the dangerous Jack Cust to ground out and Aki Iwamura did the same. Rapada would be a situational lefty in the playoffs and would likely not be in the game for an entire inning unless it was all left-handed hitters.

* LHP Matt Harrison is another player trying to get a spot on the postseason roster. And he struggled on Sunday. Harrison allowed five runs on three hits in two-thirds of an inning.

* Most of the regulars did not play, watching and relaxing in the dugout during the game. Michael Young and Ian Kinsler will be among those in the lineup on Monday, when the team plays in front of the hometown fans for the first time since clinching the title.

Who's on your postseason roster?

September, 13, 2010
It's Sept. 13 and there are 19 regular season games left in 2010. That means there's a little more than 3 weeks before the playoffs begin. So assuming Texas takes care of business, who do you want to see on the postseason roster? Let's take a look at the options:

* The Rangers have to figure out which 25 players make the postseason roster for the best-of-5 series in the ALDS. How many pitchers do they take and how many position players? That's tough to say. If Frank Francisco is not healthy, they may opt to get an extra arm in the bullpen. If he's not, maybe they use that spot for the bench.

* The series projects to be one that doesn't include an off day between Games 1 and 2, meaning it would likely go at NYY or Tampa Bay on Wednesday and Thursday, in Arlington Saturday and Sunday and then back on the road for a possible Game 5 on Tuesday. That means you need four starters for the series (I can't see going on three days' rest). So that puts Cliff Lee, C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis and Tommy Hunter in those spots.

* That means the club could go with seven or eight relievers. Neftali Feliz, Darren O'Day and Darren Oliver are locks. If Frank Francisco isn't ready, I'd be tempted to go with eight in the bullpen. That could include some from this group: Alexi Ogando, Michael Kirkman, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland, Clay Rapada and Dustin Nippert. At this point, I'm assuming that Rich Harden, Scott Feldman and Pedro Strop will not make the roster.

* Of that group above, I'd take Ogando, Harrison (so there's some length) and Kirkman (situational lefty and a guy that can get multiple hitters). And I would also put Rapada on my postseason roster if it started today. That delivery is not fun for left-handed hitters and he would be a nice option to have against tough lefties late in games. So in an eight-man pen, that leaves one spot to decide. It's one that would probably have some length, so do you go with Holland (and put five lefties in the pen) or Nippert? How they do in the next few weeks could decide that.

* What about the bench? The Rangers will go with a backup catcher, an additional outfielder (David Murphy or Julio Borbon, whichever you slot as the fourth OF) and Andres Blanco. Manager Ron Washington has basically already said Blanco makes postseason roster and why wouldn't he? He can play a variety of infield positions and is really swinging the bat well.

* So if you go with eight relievers and four starters, that leaves one more spot to decide between Esteban German, Jorge Cantu, Chris Davis and Jeff Francoeur. If you go seven relievers, you can take two of those guys. Let's go through each player:

German: He gives you speed on the bases and can impact a game late with the ability to steal a base and pinch run late and help produce a run.

Cantu: The right-hander hitter hasn't done much with the bat since he's been here, but he can play first base. It's tough to go into a postseason with only the rookie Mitch Moreland at first base with no backup for him, isn't it?

Francoeur: He gives you playoff experience and a right-handed bat off the bench. He's also a solid defender. If you play the Yankees with those two left-handed starters, it would be nice to have that bat.

Davis: We saw on Saturday how Ron Washington intends to use Davis, putting him in for Mitch Moreland in the eighth inning for defensive purposes. That glove and power bat potential off the bench might be useful.

Which one of those two would you take? It would be nice to have German's speed late in games because of what it can do for you. But German can't play first. He started one game at first base in Kansas City in 2006 and played two innings at first in one game with the Rangers last season. That doesn't seem like a long enough resume to feel comfortable with him stepping in if needed there.

So that leaves Cantu or Davis. If the Rangers face the Yankees and left-handers CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte, they'd like to have that right-handed bat of Cantu's as an option. But so far, Cantu isn't hitting the ball well enough to justify the selection. If his hitting doesn't improve, I think the Rangers would be better off taking Davis and using that glove late in games.

The key probably comes in the bullpen. If the Rangers take seven relievers, they have more options off the bench than they would if they go with eight. Would you leave German off the roster. Is that worth it for one more pitcher? These are the kinds of tough calls that face the Rangers in these last few weeks of the season.

Who would you put on your postseason roster and why?

Rotation set up for Cliff Lee to start Game 1

September, 10, 2010
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers aren't taking anything for granted. But at some point, a team has to try to line up its rotation for a possible postseason berth. Manager Ron Washington said his rotation is lined up the way he wants it now.

He said if form holds and the Rangers clinch before the final day, Cliff Lee would start the first game of the American League Division Series (which right now looks like at Yankee Stadium on Oct. 6).

Washington is planning for Lee to pitch in the final regular season game of the season on Oct. 3. If the Rangers need to win the game to make the playoffs, Lee would be in position to start it for them. If not, he'd likely go a few innings (almost like a regular side session) and be ready for Game 1.

Lee remains scheduled to pitch Sunday against the Yankees after dealing with a strained muscle in his lower back.

Other notes:

* RHP Frank Francisco still has not thrown since hurting a muscle in his side on Aug. 27. He said he's been working out and going through treatment, but isn't at the point of throwing yet. He added that he's expecting to get another MRI on Monday and if that shows no damage, he could begin to ramp up his rehab. Since he's a one-inning reliever, manager Ron Washington isn't as concerned about having him pitch in multiple games. But if he's not back by the final week of the season to throw in a game or at least pitch to hitters in a simulated game, he may not make the postseason roster.

* SS Elvis Andrus says he's 100 percent and that he could have played the last two games in Toronto, but Washington didn't want him on the Rogers Centre turf. He added that he'll continue to get treatment on the hamstrings and do everything he can to keep them in good shape. "I can't say I won't have something happen, but I feel good right now," Andrus said.

* LHP C.J. Wilson flew back to Texas ahead of the team. "He should be the most well-rested Texas Ranger," said Washington, who got back to Dallas around 2:30 a.m. with the rest of the team.

* Washington clearly expects utility infielder Andres Blanco to be on the postseason roster. Blanco has played well the last few weeks and the club was confident enough in him to rest Andrus those final two games in Toronto. That could mean Cristian Guzman may not make the postseason roster. We'll see.

* Washington praised lefty Clay Rapada, who could be an important situational lefty out of the bullpen down the stretch and possibly in the postseason (yes, he's eligible. He could replace an injured player).



Colby Lewis
10 5.18 133 170
BAA. Beltre .324
HRA. Beltre 19
RBIA. Beltre 77
RA. Beltre 79
OPSA. Beltre .879
ERAC. Lewis 5.18
SOY. Darvish 182