I hope you'll grant me the luxury of taking one more morning off without engaging in especially deep written thought about baseball ... because this is going to be an explosive week:
● Louie Horvath's game story discusses the Rangers jumping down Felix Hernandez's throat with their split-squad lineup yesterday, Alexi Ogando likely moving to the bullpen, and the performances of the relievers vying for playoff roster spots. With Justin Verlander and the Tigers falling to Baltimore yesterday, the Rangers have taken a one-game lead over Detroit for the No. 2 seed in the American League playoff picture, meaning if the season ended at this moment, the Rangers would host the Red Sox and the Yankees would host the Tigers in each respective ALDS series.
Out of 205 career starts, Felix Hernandez's -.430 WPA yesterday afternoon was the fifth-worst mark of his career. It was also just the sixth time that he allowed 12 or more hits in a single start, and (perhaps most curiously) he also posted a Game Score of just 13 -- the second-worst mark of his career. Hernandez was forced out early by a Michael Young line drive that caught him in the right forearm, so it's possible that he could have turned some of these numbers around a bit sans an injury-necessitating early exit ... but, to recap, this was a Rangers lineup that had no Ian Kinsler, no Mike Napoli, no Nelson Cruz, no Josh Hamilton, no Adrian Beltre, and no Elvis Andrus.
● Drew Davison's notes include talk about C.J. Wilson's blister having healed, Nelson Cruz finally being ready to play the outfield, Julio Borbon rehabbing, playoff ticket updates, and, uh ...
"People want to talk MVP? It's ridiculous if they don't consider Michael Young," Washington said. "I'd like somebody to tell me a utility player who does what he does.... When it all started, nobody thought he'd be able to get playing time."
● Gil LeBreton's morning column talks about the Rangers being the hottest team in baseball right now.
● Ron Washington has confirmed that C.J. will be his Game 1 starter, and that, at the moment, the plan is to roll with four starters and eight relievers in the first round.
● Yoshinori Tateyama is feeling less fatigued, and it could earn him a spot in the Rangers' eight-man bullpen. Alexi Ogando still feels "great." Koji Uehara is adapting to American baseball tradition. Controversy-embroiled Marlins closer Leo Nunez apparently revealed his true identity and age because it was his father's dying wish that he do so.