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Number Two Remains a Mystery

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Derek Holland pitched well again on Wednesday night and seems to have completed his climb from fifth starter to essential part of the Rangers rotation.

    Where exactly he fits on the totem pole of the rotation seems to be coming into focus. Ron Washington addressed the topic in a radio interview on Wednesday afternoon and gave a pretty clear indication of where Holland is relative to his peers.

    "I don't know if he'll start Game Two, but Derek Holland will be in the top three if he continues to pitch the way he's been pitching recently."

    Let's assume that the win over the Indians did nothing to change Wash's mind about Holland's place in the pecking order. Let's also assume that he isn't starting Game Two, although that seems to be an open question. We know C.J. Wilson is going in Game One and we've pencilled Holland into Game Three, so who is going to go in Game Three.

    If we had to place our life savings on a bet, we'd put it on Colby Lewis. Lewis has been erratic this season and hasn't been pitching particularly well of late, but he's got pretty big advantages over his competition.

    With Wilson and Holland sandwiched around him, Lewis would give the team a chance to go lefty-right-lefty with one of the lefties pitching on the road. That's a nice thing to have at either Fenway Park or Yankee Stadium, especially when it seems likely that you'd have another lefty coming behind Holland in a potential Game Four.

    The other big thing in Lewis's favor is experience. Matt Harrison and Alexi Ogando have both pitched better than Lewis this season, but they are in uncharted waters when it comes to innings pitched. Lewis has not only gone this deep into a season as a starter before, he has also started and done well in the postseason.

    That isn't necessarily predictive of success this time around, but you'd rather bank on that than on the chance that a fatigued pitcher is going to be able to reach deep enough to summon the kind of performance that we haven't seen from them in a long time.

    Ogando is probably out of the mix at this point. The choice between Lewis and Harrison is pretty close, but it feels like the experience issue will tilt things in Colby's favor. Managers like their guys and Lewis became one of Wash's last October. That should be enough to get him the ball this October as well.