Claudio's 2018 role in bullpen uncertain

Left-hander has 2.29 ERA this season in relief and has thrived in ninth inning

Claudio's 2018 role in bullpen uncertain

ARLINGTON -- Alex Claudio earned his 11th save Friday night with a scoreless ninth inning in a 5-3 victory over the Athletics. With that save, the left-hander passed Matt Bush for the club lead.

"I can add that to my resume," Claudio said. "I'm very happy with what I accomplished."

The 11 saves would be the fewest to lead the Rangers since Greg Harris had 11 in 1985. Eric Gagne had 12 in the first four months of the 2007 season before being traded to the Red Sox and ending up as the Rangers' leader.

Claudio didn't become the closer until the beginning of July. Even then the Rangers never really declared him the official ninth-inning guy, and it's unlikely that they'll go into the offseason assuming he will automatically be in that role next year.

Claudio locks down the save

The Rangers have much to do to fix their bullpen this winter and will consider all their options in the closer's role.

"Right now, Claudio has performed [well] as our closer," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "Every year is a new year. Some things are static and some things have a possibility of changing."

What is certain is that Claudio will have a significant role in the Rangers bullpen. His 2.29 ERA as a reliever is the sixth lowest among qualifiers in the American League. His 1.04 WHIP ranks 19th among 102 qualifying relievers.

Claudio said the closer role didn't come up in his exit interview with manager Jeff Banister and general manager Jon Daniels.

"I'm just ready for however they need me," Claudio said. "If they want me as the closer, that's fine. I believe I can be the closer."

Bibens-Dirkx ready for winter

Rangers pitcher Austin Bibens-Dirkx has pitched seven straight years in winter ball. He is ready for an eighth, even though he spent most of this season in the Majors with the Rangers.

"I've done it for so long, I'm just wary how my arm will feel if I don't do it," Bibens-Dirkx said. "I like that extra edge going into Spring Training."

Claudio has the same feeling. He wants to keep pitching in winter ball even though he carried a full load in the big leagues this season.

"I don't want to change my routine," Claudio said.

Rangers beat

Adrian Beltre has been out of the lineup since the Rangers were eliminated from postseason contention on Tuesday, but Banister said he could make an appearance on Sunday for the fans.

Mike Napoli, another fan favorite, probably isn't going to be able to make an appearance in the regular-season finale. He has a stress reaction in his right leg and has played in one game since Sept. 11.

"He is pretty banged up," Banister said.

Shin-Soo Choo leads the Rangers with 77 walks, which is the most by a Rangers player since Ian Kinsler had 89 in 2011.

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. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.