The American League West championship is on the line this week so the Rangers are going with their best.
Derek Holland, who was scheduled to pitch Wednesday’s game against Astros ace Dallas Keuchel, has been moved up to face right-hander Collin McHugh on Tuesday. The reasoning is simple, Rangers manager Jeff Banister said: He wants his two best pitchers taking the ball first in what essentially amounts to a playoff series.
Holland (3-2), who has a 3.13 ERA since returning from a shoulder injury in August, is coming off a loss in Seattle in which he allowed five runs on nine hits in seven innings. He’ll be on his normal four days’ rest.
“I felt really good. I just missed a couple pitches,” Holland said. “ ... I feel good, everything is fine and I’m not too worried about that.”
The change was no surprise for Holland. He knew he was going Tuesday since his last start. Martin Perez (2-5) and Colby Lewis (15-8) will pitch Games 3 and 4 against Keuchel (17-7) and right-hander Lance McCullers (5-5).
“We have two guys that have been pitching exceptionally well for us going back-to-back,” Banister said of Monday’s starter Cole Hamels and Holland.
Holland was happy to be moved up.
“We have to get our rotation the way that they want it,” he said. “I’ve got to toe the rubber whatever day that is and go out there. I’m all for it. I’ll give these guys a little rest. They’ve been on the grind all year and I’ve been on vacation.”
Fans can register to buy potential playoff tickets for home games at Globe Life Park by signing up at texasrangers.com/opportunity. Fans are limited to four tickets for a possible wild card game or one of the three possible division series games in Arlington. Availability runs through 5 p.m. Sept. 21.
A pool of randomly selected registrants will be chosen and provided access to an online presale opportunity. Those selected will be notified by email no later than 5 p.m. Sept. 24 and the online opportunity is Sept. 25.
Chi Chi’s role
Rookie right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez doesn’t yet know how he’ll be used the rest of the season after a spot start Sunday. He pitched well and earned the win after holding Oakland to one earned run in 5 1/3 innings. Gonzalez could be used as a long reliever down the stretch or as a fill-in starter. Banister doesn’t foresee Gonzalez in the rotation in the next week.
“Not going to rule it out just yet,” he said. “Chi Chi came in and did as good as we could have asked him to do. He looked sharp.”
Napoli in left again
Mike Napoli started in left field again Monday night with a left-hander on the mound for the Astros. Banister said he’s unlikely to use Napoli in the outfield against a right-handed starter and would rather use left-hitting Will Venable or Joey Gallo. He also likes having Napoli on the bench as a pinch-hitter.
Adrian Beltre was selected the Rangers’ 2015 nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award. Each of the 30 clubs nominates one player a year. Beltre will be honored before Wednesday’s game. The award recognizes players who best represent the game through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement.
Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760