The Rangers officially bumped left-hander Cole Hamels to Monday for the opener of a four-game series against division-leading Houston, inserting rookie Chi Chi Gonzalez into the rotation Sunday.
The thought of moving Hamels to Monday — and also lining him up for which the three-game series at Houston on Sept. 25-27 and a potential play-in game, wild-card game or division-series opener — had been on paper for about a month, but manager Jeff Banister said that the Rangers wanted to evaluate which spot starter would give them the best option against Oakland.
Gonzalez got the nod over Nick Martinez after a strong finish at Triple A Round Rock. Though opponents batted .302 against him in August, Gonzalez when 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA and showed a greater difference between his fastball and off-speed pitches.
He lost both start this season against Oakland, but they were in June.
“It’s a different ballclub,” Banister said Thursday morning.
Every starter will get an extra day’s rest, a late-season benefit that Banister called “huge,” but the biggest perk is Hamels facing the Astros twice. The Rangers will start Hamels, Martin Perez, Derek Holland and Colby Lewis in the four games at Globe Life Park.
“I’m glad,” Banister said. “It’s good. That’s the way we wanted it. This is why we got him.”
The Rangers have won the past five games that Hamels has started.