ARLINGTON -- The Rangers are holding off on announcing their rotation for the American League Championship Series, but manager Ron Washington did say that C.J. Wilson will be the Game 1 starter on Saturday vs. the Tigers and Alexi Ogando will remain in the bullpen for the rest of the playoffs.Ogando went 13-8 with a 3.51 ERA in 29 starts and two relief appearances during the regular season, including 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA in three starts against the Tigers. He was moved to the bullpen for the AL Division Series against the Rays and pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings. He allowed one hit, struck out two and retired the side in order in the eighth inning of Tuesday's 4-3 Game 4 victory. The Rangers consider him too valuable to take out of the bullpen. "We're committed to Ogando in the bullpen," Washington said. "He gives us too much for the situation we are in." Derek Holland pitched Game 2 of the ALDS, Colby Lewis pitched in Game 3 and Matt Harrison went in Game 4. Those three will remain in the rotation, the only question is whether Lewis will move ahead of Holland.
Ogando was the only Rangers pitcher to beat the Tigers during the regular season. Harrison went 0-2 with a 6.30 ERA in two starts against them, and Lewis went 0-1 with a 15.95 ERA. Holland did not pitch against the Tigers this season.The first two games of the ALCS will be played at the Ballpark in Arlington, where Lewis went 5-5 with a 5.54 ERA during the regular season, with Holland going 8-2 with a 4.69 ERA. The most overwhelming reason why Lewis should follow Wilson in the rotation is that he is 4-0 with a 1.67 ERA in five playoff starts over the past two seasons. "When Colby is executing pitches, he can do that here or on the road," Washington said. "We are confident with Colby wherever he pitches." Starting pitching is crucial in any playoff series, but Washington believes his much-improved bullpen could make a big difference. The Rangers were 3-6 against the Tigers, but only three of those games were played after the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, when the Rangers acquired relievers Koji Uehara from the Orioles and Mike Adams from the Padres. The Rangers also acquired left-hander Michael Gonzalez from the Orioles on Aug. 31. The Rangers lost two of three to the Tigers in April at Comerica Park. In those two losses, the Rangers had leads going into the bottom of the sixth and couldn't hold them. Both times the Tigers won in the bottom of the ninth. "We're a different group, and we've certainly fortified our bullpen," Washington said. "At that time we were struggling to lock games down. ... What we'll be looking at is what the game presents, taking advantage of any opportunities we have and limiting the opportunities the other team has. "That's just the way baseball goes. That's the way it went then, and now we're feeling good about ourselves." The Rangers could reinforce their bullpen for the ALCS, and acknowledged they will review the roster for the next round of the playoffs. One possibility is dropping third catcher Matt Treanor and adding a reliever, with the leading candidates being right-handers Darren O'Day and Yoshinori Tateyama. If the Rangers feel they need an extra left-hander, Michael Kirkman could get consideration. "We're going to talk about it," general manager Jon Daniels said. "In a five-game series, it's easier to go with the extra position player. In a seven-game series, you might go with the extra pitcher." The Rangers had three position players who did not play in the ALDS: Treanor, infielder Esteban German and outfielder Endy Chavez. The Rangers wanted Treanor on the roster for the ALDS because it would make it easier to have catchers Mike Napoli and Yorvit Torrealba in the same lineup. But that only happened once, in Game 1's 9-0 loss against rookie left-handed reliever Matt Moore. Torrealba was in the lineup at designated hitter, with Michael Young at first base. In the next three games, Mitch Moreland was at first, and Young was at DH. The Rangers are leaning toward that alignment going forward, reducing the need for the third catcher. Napoli remains the regular catcher, and he came out of his second-inning collision at home plate on Tuesday without any problems. After the Rays' Sean Rodriguez barreled over Napoli to score his team's first run, Napoli stayed in the game and was checked out by a doctor afterward. The Rangers were also celebrating with champagne afterward. "He celebrated fine," Daniels said.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.