Keone Kela will open the season as the Texas Rangers are closer.
Manager Jeff Banister said Kela will get the ball if he has not dealt with the previous two games. In this case, Kevin Jepsen, a seasoned right-hander added by Triple A Round Rock Thursday morning, would close.
"We would love to draw a closer conclusion. It's something we were challenged with a bit," Banister said. "We made changes every three or three months in the first or second month."
Banister said he would rather give a pitcher, in this case Kela, the opportunity to make his role closer.
"It's not a bullpen or close-by-committee scenario, I've never really wanted that," Banister said, referring to past Bullpen problems that had occurred in Rangers' previous three seasons. "Once we let a man know that he can close games, we've let him close games."
Left-hander Alex Claudio earned the job a year ago after Sam Dyson and Matt Bush both had problems. But Claudio is at other times in a game, not just the ninth, more valuable available, said Banister.
"When you run the scenarios over and over again where its value is, it's not just the ninth inning," he said. "Similar to Bush, these guys are one-plus-type pitchers who come in sixth or seventh and can come back for you, these guys are invaluable."
Jake Dikeman and Chris Martin will take over roles. 1
Jose Le Clerc is used in low-leverage situations to build his confidence after trying to beat him with his fastball a year ago.
"We will try to be as strategic as possible with his exits," he said. "Build this confidence level again."
The Gallo Shift
The Astros employed a four-headed outfield every time Joey Gallo was at the plate.
And it worked perfectly on the opening day.
Gallo twice left, once right, and hit the Rangers' 4-1 win at Globe Life Park.
Astros Third baseman Alex Bregman was in the left field and Josh Reddick and midfielder Jake Marisnick flanked both sides of midfield and right fielder George Springer.
"This is the first time I have ever seen this," said 21-year-old veteran Adrian Beltre. "Baseball is going to be weird and it worked."
"I still go out and do what I do, I will not completely change my approach that I've had all my life," Gallo said. "I try to do damage, and if I hit the ball as I intend, the shift will not matter anyway."
Gallo said he dropped a bundle with most of the left side of the infield open to him. But the opening day was not the right time.
"I'm thinking about it, but I'm trying to save it for a while when I need it or I'm not feeling well on the plate," he said. "I felt pretty good today, I saw the ball pretty well, so I wanted to give myself the chance to swing the bat and see what happens, today was not the time for me."  Gallo, who had improved in the last year when he beat more on the left field, said he could keep the defense honest by doing more.
"If I could get some cheap punches over there, that would be nice too," he said. "We have a few more games to find out."
Elvis Andrus thinks Gallo should flirt against the third base part of his game if Defense plays him like this.
"They are trying to get his power out of him, but he needs to make an adjustment," said Andrus. "I think if he goes two or three times, they'll move for the fourth time, or you'll get four hits every day."
Justin Verlander was on and this is never good for enemy batters. The Astros ace outstripped Rangers left-hander Cole Hamels and led Houston to a 4-1 opening day win over Texas on Thursday afternoon at Globe Life Park.
Verlander held the Rangers to four singles and two walks over six innings away the win. Hamels was tied to the loss after allowing three runs on Fives hits and four walks in 5 2/3 innings.
Hamels worked twice from Mists to prevent a larger hole for the Rangers. He hit seven, including two in the first with Alex Bregman in the second base.
Verlander had baffled most of the Rangers lineup, with the exception of Adrian Beltre, who had two of the six hits in the game (and two of the four against Verlander.) "It's no secret what he can do He increased his fastball today, "said Beltre.
Elvis Andrus said he could not get away, allowing Verlander to settle down with a lead, with the Rangers having the first two strokes in the second, but Shin-Soo Choo Verlander beat Robinson Chirinos to reach Beltre in third place.
Rougned Odor led the third inning with a single but Verlander took him out first for second. 19659002] "If you face some top jug in this league and you make it feel comfortable through the first few innings, it will always be difficult to come back and try to put something together," An said drus.
The Rangers were allowed to respectfully tilt their caps at Verlander after the game.
"He's one of the best pitchers in the game, if not the best, so you know he's coming in," said Joey Gallo. "You know it's going to be a grind up there."