The Texas Rangers believe that the best way to get to the playoffs is to have Cole Hamels start three more times this season instead of twice, even if it means not starting the opener of a key series at Houston.
Hamels was pushed up in the rotation to Thursday in the finale against the Oakland A’s and out of the first game of a three-game series Friday against the Astros. The move will also give Hamels starts Sept. 29 and in the regular-season finale Oct. 4.
He would have started only once more, Sept. 30, had he started Friday.
“We’d like to have our best out there for three more starts,” manager Jeff Banister said. “All games matter. It’s not just those three [at Houston]. It’s being able to take care of what we need to every day.”
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If Hamels is needed for the Oct. 4 start, which could be a must-win for the Rangers to make the postseason, he would be in line to pitch Game 2 of a possible division series.
Yovani Gallardo, Derek Holland and Martin Perez are the probables for the Astros series.
We’d like to have our best out there for three more starts. All games matter. It’s not just those three [at Houston]. It’s being able to take care of what we need to every day.
Rangers manager Jeff Banister
Before the rotation switch was announced, Hamels talked about the significance of each of the Rangers’ remaining 12 games.
“Every game is important, especially when it gets closer to the end of the season,” he said. “We’ve got limited starts. Every one is important.”
While Hamels will pitch Thursday, A’s ace Sonny Gray won’t. Oakland will throw rookie Chris Bassitt, who has a 2.82 ERA despite a 1-6 record.
Left fielder Josh Hamilton will run the bases Wednesday in the latest test for his injured left knee, which was surgically repaired Sept. 11.
Catcher Robinson Chirinos, meanwhile, might not play again this season.
Hamilton has been shagging fly balls during batting practice while limited to only pinch-hitting duty.
Banister declined to say if Hamilton would need to play the outfield to be on a potential postseason roster.
“Every step that he does make in the positive direction benefits us and him,” Banister said. “The benchmark is how well he show up every day. A lot of this is to tolerance. He’s going to let us know what he can give us each day.”
Hamilton won’t rock the boat if it’s determined that he can’t do enough to be on a postseason roster.
4 Pinch-hit appearances for Josh Hamilton since he was activated from the disabled list Sept. 1. He’s had two since knee surgery Sept. 11.
“It’s hard for me to say when I’ll be out there,’ Hamilton said. “We’re trying to get to the playoffs. It’s [Banister’s] decision to put out there whoever he feels is hot or doing the best for the team. I’m OK with that.”
Chirinos said that the pain has returned to his left shoulder, almost back where he was when the biceps tendon popped.
He hasn’t done any baseball activities in three days.
“No bueno,” Chirinos said.
Center fielder Delino DeShields was back in the starting lineup after getting a day off Sunday to rest, though not necessarily to rest his bruised left knee.
Banister said that DeShields could have played, but a matchup against Felix Hernandez and the team’s final off day Monday gave Banister a chance to give DeShields a two-day break ahead of 13 straight games the rest of the season.
“The rest was good to have,” DeShields said. “I feel rested enough. I don’t think I really needed it, but they gave it to me. It’s playable.”
Triple A manager Jason Wood has joined the Rangers’ coaching staff for the rest of the season. He guided Round Rock to the Pacific Coast League championship series.
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760