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Press Pass Online: Close to Closing Calls for a Closer

Baseball: Aerial rear view of Texas Rangers bullpen during game vs Toronto Blue Jays at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Arlington, TX 5/15/2016 CREDIT: Greg Nelson (Photo by Greg Nelson /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images) (Set Number: SI384 TK1 )
CREDIT: Greg Nelson (Photo by Greg Nelson /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)

The Texas Rangers are coming down the home stretch of the regular season and haven’t yielded any ground in the AL West despite another huge surge from the Seattle Mariners.  Texas has a top three lineup in baseball from 1-9 and two certified aces at the top of the rotation in Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels.  The bullpen has been inconsistent, but it appears Jake Diekman is coming back around.  Matt Bush has been better than the Rangers could’ve ever asked for. Tanner Scheppers is back with great movement on his fastball.  Alex Claudio has been the unsung hero of this team and despite being hurt with a strained quad, Tony Barnette has been more than you could’ve ever asked for.

There are, however, some glaring issues with the bullpen for the Rangers.  It could be argued that Barnette and Claudio have been the hands down most consistent relievers.  Bush, Diekman, and Jeremy Jeffress have had shining moments, but have also gone through their rough patches.  I believe two of those three will be just fine when the playoffs roll around.  My biggest concern, along with a majority of the Ranger fanbase, is the closer role.  Shawn Tolleson is obviously no longer apart of the equation, but that doesn’t mean the question has been answered with Sam Dyson.

While Rangers closers, as a whole, are middle of the pack when it comes to blown saves (17), you’d be hard pressed not to notice some of the teams ahead of them in that category.  Boston, Cleveland, Chicago Cubs, Baltimore and Washington.  In other words, the front runners to win the world series along with the Rangers.  Sam Dyson, who’s been the closer for Texas since taking over for Tolleson in mid-may, has five blown saves.  Once again, this number isn’t terrible.  It’s average.  However, as a team aspiring to win a championship for the first time in franchise history, average won’t cut it.  His 2.66 ERA is solid, however 1.23 in the WHIP category while opponents are hitting .250 against him.  These may seem like small numbers, but they’re huge when it comes to one run ballgames.  His WHIP needs to be closer to 1.00 and the OBA needs to be closer or under .200.  These are actually the exact numbers that Matt Bush sports (0.99 WHIP, .202 OBP) despite having a slightly higher ERA at 2.82.  Not to mention, Bush has the most smelly cheddar fastball at 98-100 MPH.

I applaud Sam Dyson for taking on a spot that he wasn’t comfortable with in the first place.  He’s one of several guys on this team who make for a fantastic 7th or 8th inning set up man, but if we are being honest with ourselves, he’s no closer.  The Rangers don’t need a Mariano Rivera. They need a Neftali Feliz type with a stronger psyche, especially if you want to win in the post-season and especially if you have to go through Boston and extra especially if you meet the Chicago Cubs in the World Series.