Banister Makes Tough, Correct Call on Hamels

The Texas Rangers traded for Cole Hamels with the vision of him pitching in huge ballgames for them for years to come.

The thought wasn't so much that those would come in 2015, but yet, here we are.

As it stands, the Rangers have won the last seven games started by the ace lefty, and he's coming off perhaps his best start yet in the Rangers uniform and probably his best start of the entire season outside of his final start in a Phillies uniform — a no-hitter at Wrigley Field.

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Two weeks ago, the Rangers announced Hamels would start the opener of the four-game series with then-division-leading Houston in Arlington, and they won that game before pulling off a massive four-game sweep to take the lead in the AL West. That also set Hamels up to start the opener in Houston on Friday for the first of three against the Astros — the final meetings of the year between the teams.

Now, the plan has changed.

Jeff Banister decided on Tuesday to move Hamels to Thursday's series finale against the A's — keeping him on four-days rest — and not to pitch him in Houston. But you're crazy, you're thinking. Well, not so much.

While it hurts that the Rangers will face the Astros without their horse on the mound, it does mean Hamels gets three more regular-season starts as opposed to two, and most importantly it sets the Rangers up with some pretty nice flexibility at the end of the year.

Next Sunday, the Rangers close the season at home against the Angels. If they need Hamels to pitch in that game, he'll be available. If not, he'd be available for the AL Wild Card Game, or even better, Game 1 of the American League Division Series.

So don't freak out. On the surface, and from a micro standpoint, it looks like a bad move to take Hamels off a start against the Astros, but looking at it from a macro perspective, it makes all the sense in the world.

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