No one with the Texas Rangers has divulged which minor leaguers will becoming to the major leagues as September call-ups, and anonymous source Lanny Davis can’t be trusted anymore.
But players are coming Saturday or once the minor-league seasons wrap up a few days later. It’s safe to assume that Willie Calhoun is coming from Triple A Round Rock and Yohander Mendez, too, even though he was hit in the biceps Tuesday night by a line drive.
While the Rangers can expect their roster from 25 players to 40, per MLB rules, they aren’t going to do that. With players coming up and coming off the disabled list, the roster count could hit 35.
The season, though, isn’t going to dissolve into full-on auditions for 2019, though there will be some of that.
Mendez, for instance, needs to be seen and will get chances. But it’s not like the Rangers are teeming with young starting pitchers and position players who have commanded playing time.
Almost all of those players are already with the Rangers.
So what will September look like? There’s not an easy answer, but most of the maneuvering will be on the pitching side.
“We can get multiple looks and longer looks, as far as quantity of looks from a number of different guys without giving names just yet on September call-ups,” manager Jeff Banister said. “ When you look at our players and our lineup, there’s not a whole lot of spots there.”
Some of the starters in the rotation will continue to start on a normal schedule. Mike Minor, who allowed two solo homers in six innings during Wednesday’s 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, is likely one of those.
The Rangers, though, could also use one turn in the rotation to piggy-back young starters. Banister suggested there could be games when a prospect will cover the first three innings before being replaced by other young pitchers will three-inning assignments.
The Rangers will also toy with “The Opener” concept, and could do so soon. Right-hander Chris Martin could be the reliever who gets to start but only covers the first inning.
And then, “there are times where you bring other guys up to get a look at them, and they do play,” Banister said.
The Rangers don’t have much room for position players, especially in the outfield. Scott Heineman is a candidate for a call-up after putting himself in position to be the Rangers’ Minor League Player of the Year, but his playing time would be limited with Delino DeShields, Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara and Calhoun in need of at-bats.
Besides, the Rangers have 10 games remaining against two of the contenders for an American League wild-card spot — the Oakland A’s (three) and the Seattle Mariners. Banister said that he is acutely aware of the need to field a competitive lineup to uphold the integrity of a playoff race.
So, expect to see much of the experimenting and auditioning during Sept. games against the Minnesota Twins (Sept. 1-2), the Los Angeles Angels (Sept. 10-12, 24-26), San Diego Padres (Sept. 14-16) and Tampa Bay Rays (Sept. 17-19).
So, September isn’t going to be the free-for-all it was in 2014, when the Rangers held tryouts the entire second half after injuries ruined their season. Those Rangers, by the way, went 14-12 in September.
“I never want us to get to a point where there’s a spring-training element, because it’s not,” Banister said. “This is real baseball, it’s real stats, it’s their jobs, and then there’s the record and their implication.”