Texas Rangers manager Jeff Banister doesn’t want to talk about it, but he’s started considering the postseason. The Rangers are giving their top two pitchers extra rest and lining them up for the first two playoff games.
Cole Hamels will pitch Friday and Yu Darvish on Saturday in Oakland, both on six days’ rest. The pair are likely to get another six days’ rest before making their last starts of the regular season Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 against the Tampa Bay Rays.
21 Earned runs allowed in 21 2/3 innings over past four games for Rangers’ starting pitchers.
The Rangers’ postseason would begin with Game 1 of the best-of-five AL Division Series on Oct. 6 at Globe Life Park. The Rangers, whose magic number to win the division was down to five pending Monday’s games, would clinch home-field advantage if they finish with the best record in the league and would host the winner of the AL wild card game, which would be between the Blue Jays and Orioles if the season ended today.
“We still have yard work to do,” Banister joked. “We’re clipping the weeds right now. I’d rather be watering the field right now.”
Hamels and Darvish have struggled in recent starts. A couple of strong outings before the postseason would be ideal, Banister said. “It’d be nice for them go out there and throw the ball well and have some success. There’s a lot of feel-good there. A lot of momentum.”
What’s necessary is for all of our guys get on that roll of quality pitches, manage the game, go as deep as they can, because there’s a lot of feel-good and satisfaction with that.
Rangers manager Jeff Banister
That goes for all the starters, including Derek Holland, who will start Wednesday’s finale against the Los Angeles Angels. Holland last pitched Sept. 14 in Houston. Since having three solid starts after returning from the disabled list, he’s been less sharp in his past two outings. He’s allowed a combined nine runs on 17 hits in 10 innings over those two starts.
“What’s necessary is for all of our guys to get on that roll of quality pitches, manage the game, go as deep as they can, because there’s a lot of feel-good and satisfaction with that,” Banister said. “The psyche of all these guys, as strong as we know they are, when all those things are in place, they’re mentally stronger, which allows them to relax, and when they’re relaxed they perform a lot better.”
Reliever Tony Barnette threw on flat ground Sunday and hopes to pitch off a mound Wednesday for the first time since Sept. 4, when he strained his right oblique.
Barnette said he didn’t feel any “ ill effects” a day after throwing with 100 percent strength. Banister said Barnette would likely pitch to hitters in a simulated setting at Globe Life Park instead of going to Arizona next week.
Actor Matthew McConaughey was in Arlington on Monday talking to area high school students who have participated in his Just Keep Livin foundation, which provides after-school curriculum that encourages students to improve their physical and mental health in various ways, including exercise, teamwork and community service. The Rangers Foundation partnered with McConaughey’s foundation in 2011.
“For us to spread our class to different schools, we need help, we need the partnerships,” said McConaughey, who lives in Austin. “We need the Rangers organization to oversee that to make sure it’s running right.”
Outfielder Shin-Soo Choo threw long toss Monday and expects to hit soft toss Tuesday. Choo has been on the disabled list since Aug. 16 after having surgery to repair a fracture in his left forearm. Choo is hoping to be available for the start of the postseason, which is likely to begin Oct. 6. Originally, Choo was expected to miss eight weeks.
“He’s working his way back,” Banister said.
The Rangers would like having Choo back to lead off for the playoffs.