The Texas Rangers will be setting their roster for the ALCS by Sunday, when they play Game 1 of the ALCS against the Houston Astros. The Rangers made one change between their Wild Card Series roster and their Division Series roster, with Cody Bradford being added to the LDS roster, replacing Grant Anderson, who was on the Wild Card roster.
For the League Championship Series, I do not expect to see any changes on the position player side. The lineup is the lineup, and the only question is whether Mitch Garver or Robbie Grossman is DHing against righthanders, and whether Evan Carter or Robbie Grossman is in left field against lefty pitchers.
The question is what will happen with the pitching staff. Here is what we saw in the ALDS for the Rangers’ pitching staff:
The Rangers have two starting pitchers who have been injured, but appear ready to be activated for the ALCS, in Max Scherzer and Jon Gray.
Bruce Bochy gave an update yesterday where he sounded very positive about Max Scherzer, and it sounds like Scherzer will be on the ALCS roster. Bochy said the plan would be to use him as a starter, even though Scherzer would likely be on a limited pitch count, which makes sense given that Scherzer hasn’t really worked out of the bullpen, and the Rangers likely will be using a tag-team approach to one or two rotation spots regardless of what they do with Scherzer and Gray.
So Scherzer is on, I think. Jon Gray is more of a question mark. The comments from him in regards to where he is and how long he would be able to go in an outing are less encouraging than with Scherzer, though how much of that is an actual difference in where they are and what they can do versus how they are talking about it and it is being reported is an open question. When Gray went on the i.l. with a forearm strain heading into the final weekend of the season, it was indicated that he would be eligible to be activated for the ALCS if Texas got that far. At the time it seemed like wishful thinking, but here we are, and Gray, it sounds like, may actually return.
Which brings us back to the ALCS roster. If the Rangers activate Scherzer and Gray, with an eye towards them being two of the four starters for the series (along with Jordan Montgomery and Nathan Eovaldi), that means two pitchers are bumped. Andrew Heaney, Dane Dunning, Martin Perez and Cody Bradford all currently give the Rangers length out of the bullpen, and they will need length, given that any games other than those started by Montgomery or Eovaldi will likely need a tag team. That said, I am not sure they are necessarily going to need four long guys of this type, and Bradford could get squeezed out.
If Scherzer makes the roster but not Gray, I think Bradford likely sticks, with either Brock Burke or Matt Bush getting bumped for Scherzer. If Scherzer and Gray both are on the roster, I expect two of these three to be replaced, and Bradford is more likely to be dropped, unless they decide to use him as a situational lefty instead of Burke (who, it is becoming clear, is not someone Bochy trusts).