3:30 p.m. CDT Update: Tonight's Rangers lineup has just dropped (via John Blake):
2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
LF Josh Hamilton
3B Adrian Beltre
RF Nelson Cruz
1B Michael Young
DH Mike Napoli
C Geovany Soto
CF Craig Gentry
On the whole, this is encouraging news -- a righty-packed lineup with Craig Gentry in center field and Adrian Beltre at third base with Yu Darvish on the bump infuses you with confidence that this is just about the best offense/defense the Rangers could roll out there tonight. You like to think that if Darvish has it tonight and the lineup can perform at the level it's capable of performing at for just one night, the Rangers can survive this. Survive tonight, and worry about tomorrow if it comes.
12:00 p.m. CDT Update: This isn't exactly hot and fresh and breaking news, as it all hit the wires shortly after the 10 a.m. CDT deadline for wild-card teams to finalize and submit their play-in game rosters, but it's not exactly old news either, and so here is the Rangers' 25-man roster for tonight's game (via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram):
Starter (1): RHP Yu Darvish
Relievers (10): RHPs Joe Nathan, Alexi Ogando, Koji Uehara, Scott Feldman, Roy Oswalt, Yoshinori Tateyama; LHPs Robbie Ross, Michael Kirkman, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison
Infielders (6): Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus, Ian Kinsler, Michael Young, Mitch Moreland, Jurickson Profar
Outfielders (5): Josh Hamilton, David Murphy, Nelson Cruz, Craig Gentry, Leonys Martin
Catchers (3): Mike Napoli, Geovany Soto and Luis Martinez
A handful of very quick thoughts:
● The inclusion of a third catcher was expected, as Soto will presumably be behind the plate tonight, and you don't want to have to worry about leaving Soto in to run the bases and then switch Napoli from 1B/DH to cover for catcher if, say, Soto reaches base late in a close ballgame, and the strategically correct move is to deploy a pinch-runner.
● If such a pinch-runner should be required, I imagine Leonys Martin will be the first option off the bench, and Jurickson Profar the second if the game should run into extra innings -- unless, of course, Ron Washington elects to start David Murphy and Josh Hamilton tonight with Craig Gentry on the bench against a lefty-tossing Joe Saunders, which would then make Gentry your No. 1 pinch-running/defensive sub option. I do not like the idea of Gentry riding the pine tonight. Not. One. Bit.
● The only surprise in the infield is that Texas isn't carrying one of Mike Olt or Brandon Snyder to war as an emergency CIF/righty pinch-hitting option, particularly with Adrian Beltre's health in such a questionable state. Washington has thus far refused to commit to starting Beltre at third base tonight, and, if he should end up DHing instead, you'll see Michael Young at third base, with the ever-present threat of #PADMY creating yet another defensive obstacle that Darvish will have to try and steer clear of. At this point, though, I can live with Young at third base in a live-or-die game if the circumstances demand it ... as long as the defense isn't compromised at any other position.
● Matt Harrison's inclusion is not surprising -- yeah, he's your projected ALDS Game 1 starter if the Rangers should survive tonight, but you can deploy both him and Derek Holland as situational lefty-hurling weapons if you don't want to use Robbie Ross yet (or if you already have used him), and if a worst-case scenario develops where it looks like Darvish's wheels might go flying off within the first inning or two, I'd much rather see Harrison summoned and try to keep the Rangers alive on three days' rest than, say, Holland or Roy Oswalt or even Scott Feldman. Tateyama, Oswalt, and Feldman are each non-essential pieces that are capable of chewing up a few innings if this should turn into a Rangers-friendly blowout, and Tateyama also has some situational use, as he can be utilized as a true ROOGY if the situation calls for a huge out against a righty batter.
And since Mike Adams is probably broken, he stays home ... for now.
So, there it is. There's your roster that the Rangers will either ride with or die with tonight.