With the Texas Rangers firmly in the playoff hunt, it is time to start looking towards September when rosters expand to 40 players. There always seems to be one guy that is called up that performs well and sneaks onto the postseason roster or cements a spot on the opening day roster for next season.
Last year, it was Clay Rapada who came out of nowhere to make the postseason roster and pitch against the Yankees in the ALCS.
Could there be another Rapada this season? Almost assuredly, but who?
It's hard to tell, but there are clues.
First, they have to be on the 40-man roster to be eligible to play in September. If they're not, a spot must be made available for them. Obviously, players on that 40-man roster already are at an advantage over someone who is not.
Next, it's very unlikely Martin Perez is called up so temper your expectations. He's not ready for a shot in the majors and there's no spot for him right now on a postseason roster. There's also no spot for highly touted prospects Mike Olt or Tommy Mendonca.
Anyone who will be called up with a chance to make the postseason roster must fill a void.
That means a bullpen arm or a guy that can come off the bench. Only one player on this list is a potential starter in the postseason and no starting pitcher called up will make the postseason roster as there is already a logjam at the position.
With that said, here is a list of five September call-ups that could crack the postseason roster.
The newest member of the Texas Rangers organization could sneak his way onto the postseason roster. Tim Wood was acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 18 for cash considerations and was relegated to Triple-A Round Rock.
Wood has dominated the Triple-A ranks to the tune of a 2.78 ERA in 45 innings while earning 23 saves with a WHIP under one. As a member of the 40-man roster, he will definitely be called up at some point next month.
Wood and O'Day are basically in the same boat though. The only way he makes the postseason roster is as an injury replacement as the bullpen is already loaded with right-handed arms.
Injuries do happen though, and if he can out-pitch O'Day, Wood could very well find himself pitching in the ALDS.
Mark Hamburger should be a on the postseason roster just for the humor of seeing "Hamburger" on the back of a jersey.
The man with the funny name can also pitch. Hamburger was lights out at Double-A Frisco early in the season with a 1.83 ERA in 11 games out of the Rough Riders bullpen. He was then called up to Triple-A Round Rock and has continued his strong pitching against higher competition.
He has even began starting games for the Express and had gone 23 straight innings without giving up a run before allowing a home run on Monday. He offers a wealth of pitches including a good fastball, splitter, changeup and slider.
I know what you're thinking, "But you said no starting pitcher will make the postseason roster."
True, but Hamburger is more valuable as a long reliever and that is just the type of player the Rangers need. Hamburger is a wild card in the playoff roster chase, but if Clay Rapada can do it then why not a Hamburger.
Tanner Scheppers has the most upside of all the pitchers on this list and could become the future closer once Mike Adams and Koji Uehara leave after the 2012 season.
Scheppers' talent has been noticed by scouts nationwide as he has been a Top 100 prospect two consecutive seasons. Scheppers has one of the best fastballs in the entire organization and couples that with a devastating curve when he is on.
The one thing that has been holding back his enormous talent from the major league club is the injury bug.
Scheppers has been on the disabled list for extended periods both in 2010 and 2011 which has limited him from getting in a rhythm. Should he stay healthy, there is almost no doubt that the Rangers would clear a spot on their 40-man roster for Scheppers.
Scheppers is more suited for the late innings, but has the capability of going multiple innings which would fill the long relief role the Rangers need.
Leonys Martin was signed to $15 million deal earlier this summer after he had defected from Cuba. His signing meant the end of the Julio Borbon era because you're not going to pay a guy that kind of money to just ride the bench.
Martin is the only player on this list that could find himself a starting job in the playoffs, although with Endy Chavez and Craig Gentry playing at their level, it's unlikely.
Martin has been compared to Juan Pierre, Jacoby Ellsbury and Kenny Lofton in his short time in the states. If he plays even a little like these names, he should be in Arlington right now.
He torched Double-A pitching but has seen his numbers cool in Round Rock. Still, Martin is on the 40-man roster is almost assured a call-up after the minor league playoffs are over.
The Mark Teixeira trade has been an outstanding success for the Texas Rangers. Neftali Feliz and Elvis Andrus have turned out to be the gems of the deal and they have found success this season from Matt Harrison. Jarrod Saltalamacchia was the big name at the time that was shipped over to Texas, but his time was cut short when he was traded to Boston last August.
The only player not to reach the major league level could be up in September.
Beau Jones is a tall southpaw reliever currently pitching in Triple-A where he has a 3.27 ERA in 34 games for the Express. He is a good matchup should the Rangers play the Boston Red Sox in the playoffs as their lineup is loaded with left-handed bats.
He is on the outside looking in, but we will get to see what the "other guy" in the Teixeira trade is all about soon.