Bad news came Wednesday for the Texas Rangers: They have no more games remaining this season against the Houston Astros.
The season series between the two Texas clubs ended with the Rangers going 15-4.
So, the Rangers will have to settle for Oakland, Anaheim, Oakland, Milwaukee and Tampa Bay for their final 15 games, 12 of which are at home. Those teams entered Wednesday a combined 77 games below .500.
But first comes an off day, the first of three over the final three weeks of the season. The Rangers earned it after a 10-game road trip in which they went 5-5.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from an 8-4 loss.
1. Right-hander Yu Darvish threw 28 pitches in a bullpen session Wednesday and emphatically said that an injury is not the reason his start was pushed back to Saturday.
He was so emphatic that it can’t be printed, but he showed good command of the most popular English curse word. He also took to Twitter to dispel a story he saw on a Japanese website questioning his health.
Sure, Darvish might have some soreness, but who doesn’t this time of year. With three extra days’ rest since his last start and with two off days over the final two weeks, Darvish will be fine for the postseason.
But there is reason to be suspicious. Darvish is coming off Tommy John surgery and shoulder inflammation, and he has dealt with late-season soreness in previous seasons.
The Rangers at times have been about as transparent with Darvish’s health was Hillary Clinton with hers last week.
Each time this week that I’ve seen Darvish come off the field after throwing, an athletic trainer has trailed behind him.
But if Darvish says that he is healthy, especially with the proper use of a popular English curse word, he should be taken at his word. So should the Rangers, who have their rotation set up for the postseason with Cole Hamels, Darvish and Colby Lewis pitching in succession.
2. The Rangers didn’t do Derek Holland any favors Wednesday night.
Stashing him in their bullpen for three days without explanation and with no word on when he would pitch again, he found out late Tuesday that he would be starting the series finale against the Astros.
He hadn’t thrown a bullpen session since his last start last week at Seattle, and he didn’t appear in relief. Yet, he was expected to go out without any meaningful work on what slowed him against the Mariners and shut down an Astros lineup that has turned the corner against left-handers.
Holland didn’t make excuses afterward, and he never does. But his performance — five runs on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings — on short notice isn’t going to help his chances to be the fourth starter in the playoff rotation.
Martin Perez looks like the favorite for postseason starting duties behind Hamels, Darvish and Lewis. A.J. Griffin had a nice bounce-back effort Tuesday, but Perez pitched with confidence and had swing-and-miss stuff Monday.
If he pitches like that, putting away hitters instead of letting them extend at-bats and keeping the ball on the ground and in the ballpark, he can be very good.
The same goes for Holland, who pitched well at times Wednesday. Nevertheless, the Rangers didn’t do him any favors
3. While the Rangers have 75 percent of their playoff rotation set, they continue to search for the seven pitchers who will make up their bullpen.
Tanner Scheppers, Alex Claudio and Dario Alvarez look like they are vying for two spots behind Sam Dyson, Jake Diekman, Matt Bush, Keone Kela and Tony Barnette, who is expected to be OK after dealing with an oblique strain.
Claudio and Alvarez could fill two roles — long man and a lefty second left reliever. With the way Claudio has performed, it would be a low blow to pick Alvarez over him, though Holland could become a candidate if he’s left out of the rotation.
Scheppers is intriguing simply by the way he pitched in his first four outings off the disabled list. No. 5 on Wednesday was bumpy, but he’s to the point now where the Rangers would have no worries pitching him on back-to-back days.
Scheppers also comes with late-game experience. However, he can’t work multiple innings, which could an be issue if Barnette isn’t 100 percent.
If Jeremy Jeffress and Barnette return, then neither Claudio, Alvarez or Scheppers would have a spot. Jeffress remains a big if, even though he has been working out and throwing while getting treatment after his arrest on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. But there is no timetable for when he will complete his program.
The Rangers haven’t even asked doctors for a timetable.
While the rotation is all but set, the bullpen decisions might not come until after the regular season ends.