ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have three days to decide the final composition of their roster for the American League Division Series, which begins Thursday (TBS, 4:30 p.m. ET/3:30 CT).There are two big decisions left. One is if outfielder Shin-Soo Choo is ready for the postseason and the other is if
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have three days to decide the final composition of their roster for the American League Division Series, which begins Thursday (TBS, 4:30 p.m. ET/3:30 CT).
There are two big decisions left. One is if outfielder Shin-Soo Choo is ready for the postseason and the other is if the Rangers will carry an eighth reliever or an extra position player who can give them speed and defense off the bench.
Choo was in the lineup on Sunday for the third straight day after being sidelined since Aug. 15 with a broken left forearm. Choo appears to be healthy, but the Rangers have to decide if he is up to Major League speed.
"We are still in the process of evaluating Shin-Soo Choo," manager Jeff Banister said.
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Choo's situation impacts multiple players. If Choo is ready to return to the regular starting lineup, then he would push either Nomar Mazara or Carlos Gómez to the bench, or put them in a platoon situation in left field.
It will also take up another roster spot. If the Rangers go with eight relievers, they would have one open spot on the bench. They would have to decide between Ryan Rua, Delino DeShields and Jared Hoying for a spot on a four-man bench besides catcher Robinson Chirinos, infielder Jurickson Profar and the extra outfielder.
If the Rangers go with seven relievers, they could keep two of those three. If they go with a seven-man bullpen and Choo is not on the roster, Rua, DeShields and Hoying could all be on the postseason roster.
Choo said he is prepared for whatever decision the Rangers make.
"I missed four months so I can't complain," Choo said. "If I'm put on the roster, I appreciate their trust. If they don't put me on the roster, I respect their decision. If somebody is playing better than me, that's what we are here for."
The bullpen is expected to include closer Sam Dyson, right-handed setup relievers Matt Bush and Keone Kela, and left-handers Alex Claudio and Jake Diekman. Right-hander Tony Barnette would be the sixth guy if the Rangers are convinced he is over his strained left oblique muscle. All signs are showing that appears to be the case.
That leaves 1-2 spots between left-hander Derek Holland and right-handers Tanner Scheppers, Jeremy Jeffress and Nick Martínez. All are viable options based on how they have pitched lately. It depends on if the Rangers go with seven or eight relievers.
Rangers not worried about opponent: By having the best record in the American League, the Rangers have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. It also means they have to wait until after Tuesday's Wild Card Game to see who they will play in the ALDS.
They are fine with that.
"Home-field advantage is significant," Banister said. "We've got a great set of scouts. We have had guys on the road for the better part of last month watching anybody who had a chance. We will be prepared either way."
The Rangers also know there is a chance they could have a rematch with the Blue Jays, who knocked them out in five games last year in the ALDS.
"Our final priority is not to beat any one team," shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "We've got to beat three teams. A lot of people would like us to play Toronto. If it happens, we know Toronto. But we are not thinking about one team."
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.