Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon released his ALDS roster Friday morning and it includes a bit of a surprise.
Maddon dropped right-handed starter Jeff Niemann from the 25-man ALDS roster. Niemann (11-7, 4.06 ERA) was 0-2 against Texas this season, allowing 12 runs and four homers in 9 2/3 innings while the Rangers hit .357 against him.
So, that's a bummer for the Rangers.
Instead, Maddon will play with three catchers and seven relievers.
Starting pitchers -- Matt Moore, David Price, James Shields and Jeremy Hellickson.
Notes: Matt Moore's one career MLB start is the fewest in MLB history of any Game 1 postseason starter. This is the kind of bold move by Maddon that helped the Rays squeak into the playoffs. It could be huge -- but for who remains to be seen.
Relief pitchers -- Jake McGee and J.P. Howell are the southpaws in the pen and are joined by proper-handed throwers Juan Cruz, Kyle Farnsworth, Wade Davis, Brandon Gomes and Joel Peralta.
Notes: Brandon Gomes is a rookie who worked 40 games for the Rays this season. Expect to see him, without a doubt.
Outfield -- Johnny Damon, Matt Joyce, B.J. Upton, Sam Fuld and Desmond Jennings.
Notes: Damon is only a DH these days, but his bat is still impressive. He hit .261 in the regular season and drove out 16HRs. Oh, he also passed Lou Gehrig (now 58th) on the all-time hits list Tuesday night. Upton, Jennings and Joyce are your starters.
Infield -- 1B Casey Kotchman, 2B Ben Zobrist, SS Reid Brignac, 3B Evan Longoria and utility players Sean Rodriguez and Elliot Johnson.
Notes: If you saw Wednesday's regular season finale then you'll know the impact Evan Longoria had on the game -- if not, he hit two home runs including the 12th-inning walk off that sent them into the post season.
Catchers -- Kelly Shoppach, Jose Lobaton and John Jaso.
Notes: Starter Kelly Schoppach is from Fort Worth, played in college at Baylor and is the only Texan on the Rays roster. Even with his hometown ties we aren't rooting for him. Sorry Kelly. Go Rangers!