Claudio, Holland, Scheppers impress Banister out of 'pen
By Ryan Posner
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers certainly seemed pleased with Colby Lewis' final performance of the regular season Saturday night, despite a 4-1 loss to the Rays. Lewis pitched into the seventh inning and reached the 100-pitch mark for the first time since coming off the 60-day disabled list on Sept. 11.
"Both of those are significant. He had not been to that point in either case since we got him back," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "As long as he responds well in between, we'll feel good about him [for the postseason]."
Lewis said he felt stronger as the night went on and doesn't feel like there's anything holding him back, as he looks to join the back half of the Rangers' playoff rotation.
"That's what we set out for in Spring Training and wait around for 162 games for," Lewis said of the postseason. "I've been fortunate to go to the playoffs five out of the last seven seasons I've been here."
Though the Rangers gained some reassurance in Lewis' status for the postseason, they also have decisions to make for the back end of the bullpen.
Right-hander Tanner Scheppers and left-handers Derek Holland and Alex Claudio could have made those decisions a little tougher, combining to throw 2 2/3 hitless innings to finish out the game behind Lewis.
"The appropriate conversations have not been had, the decisions have not been finalized," Banister said of the postseason roster. "I think all three looked sharp."
Claudio came on for Lewis and retired the final two batters of the seventh. Out of the three pitchers, he has the longest track record in the Rangers' bullpen this year. He has a 1.87 ERA since being recalled from Triple-A Round Rock on July 8.
"Obviously, with the complete body of work and how he's pitched for us, how the ball is coming out of his hand and how he's mixed [his pitches], we like that," Banister said.
Holland then fired a perfect eighth. He's struggled in the rotation this year, going 7-9 with a 5.04 ERA in 20 starts, but he has more postseason experience than any pitcher in the bullpen.
"I felt like Derek responded well to the mission we asked him to accomplish," Banister said. "He hadn't been out there in a while, and to pitch out of relief, it's pretty significant for Derek."
Scheppers finished things out for the Rangers with a 1-2-3 ninth. He has not allowed a run in seven of eight outings since returning from left knee surgery.
Ryan Posner is a reporter for MLB.com based in Texas. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.