While everything may be bigger in Texas, blown saves and bullpen problems are no exception down in Arlington.
After Texas Rangers closer Sam Dyson blew his third save opportunity in as many chances Sunday night against the Mariners, he was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a hand contusion.
Just to take a closer look at Dyson’s struggles so far this season, the numbers are quite staggering.
Compared to last season, Dyson has given up only 6 less earned runs (13 compared to 19 in 2016) than he did all last year. He has given up three less home runs (2 compared to 5 in 2016) and has already walked 5 batters, over one per inning pitched. All of this while pitching in 66 less innings (4.1 compared to 70.1 in 2016) than all last season. His ERA is a dismal 27.00 in 6 appearances for the season. With how bad Dyson has looked this season, you have to think he hasn’t shaved his beard for the mere reason that if he gets released, he could become a Civil War reenactor.
While Dyson has been flat out terrible, Texas was going to be searching for a different closer even if he wasn’t being put on the DL. By being put on it, maybe that gives some reason as to why he has been so awful this year.
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For the time being, Texas will turn to Matt Bush as their closer, per manager Jeff Banister. But with an AC shoulder joint issue for Bush, he cannot be overused. When it looked like he would be headed towards the DL, Texas was hesitant to do so. By leaving him off of it and allowing him to rest, Bush came back and has been pain free.
While Bush will be given the first crack at the closer job for now, the opportunities will be spread because they don’t want to be overworked. So far in 2017, Bush has been featured in 4 games this year, as well as 4.2 innings pitched. Through those innings, Bush has surrendered 3 hits and 2 earned runs. Walking one batter, he has struck out 8 in those appearances.
From a Texas standpoint, they need someone in the back-end of the bullpen that they can trust. But when you are not a closer, it becomes apparent. The thing that makes a closer a good closer is that they are not only clutch, but they can handle any type of situation.
We are well past the days of Mariano Rivera, whereas almost all pitchers who close are human. No matter how good a closer is, they have downfalls. Even Rivera blew a World Series, but he was dominant on a day to day basis. We don’t see that anymore in today’s games. We may see a good closer (Britton, Familia, Kimbrel), but they aren’t in that hit-less/dominant stratosphere.
Since Texas has called up Keone Kela to take up Dysons’ roster spot, look for him to also receive some closer chances if the opportunities come. For how bad the back end of that bullpen has been, it’ll be all hands-on deck. If someone proves they can do it, no matter who they are, you have got to think Texas will continue to pitch them in the 9th, even when Dyson returns from the disabled list.