There's no doubt that the Texas Rangers still have a lot of work left to do before they start planning for the postseason. They take a 2 1/2-game lead into this weekend as they are set to host lowly Oakland, while the second-place Los Angeles Angels host the New York Yankees, who are clinging to the same lead over the Boston Red Sox in the AL East.
The Rangers' magic number is 17, meaning any combination of Rangers wins and Angels losses to equal 17 ends the race.
So, with that said, if the Rangers do in fact hold off the Angels, what will their pitching staff look like come October? Well, the only obvious answer is who will be the No. 1 starter.
1. C.J. Wilson — This is a no-brainer. C.J. Wilson is proving that he is a true ace in the majors. He threw his first complete-game shutout on Tuesday and reached 15 wins for the second straight year, in just his second year as a starting pitcher. His ERA is down to 3.13 and has drastically improved his K:walk ratio to nearly 3:1, as opposed to less than 2:1 last season. He's arrived, and he's legit. And he's your No. 1 starter.
2/3. Derek Holland/Colby Lewis — Here's the deal here. If the Rangers hold off the Tigers in the race for homefield in the ALDS, this spot would belong to Holland, who's 6-2 with a 4.96 ERA at Rangers Ballpark this year. In his last four starts at home, he's given up 1, 2, 4 and zero earned runs. If the Rangers go on the road for the first two games, you start Colby Lewis here. Lewis hasn't been consistent this season, but in his good stretches, he's been really good. Lewis was the best Rangers pitcher in the postseason last year, so that alone should earn him a spot, whether it be in the No. 2 or No. 3 spot.
4. Matt Harrison — After four straight bad starts, Harrison was skipped in the rotation to get some rest, and it seemingly paid off as he had a strong outing in Fenway Park last weekend. Harrison went 7 strong innings and gave up just two earned runs to pick up his 11th win of the season. Harrison will go again this weekend against the A's, and another effective start would be encouraging. Harrison would give the Rangers three left-handed starters out of the four, but that's OK. It is what it is.
That, of course, leaves Alexi Ogando out of the rotation for the postseason, and that's not a bad thing. I don't think there's any doubt Ogando's future is as a starter, but he's obviously hit the proverbial wall after already nearly quadrupling his career-high for innings pitched. He's also struggled mightily this season against both the Yankees and Red Sox. In his last three starts, Ogando has pitched a combined 7 2/3 innings, but in all of those starts he was dynamite in the first inning before falling apart. Seems about right, considering was a beast down the stretch in 2010 as the Rangers' set-up man. Now, the Rangers have Mike Adams in that role, but Ogando would be a lovely addition as a 7th-inning man.
So there you go, it's all laid out. Now the Rangers just need to take care of business in the West and bring on the Yankees or Red Sox.