Bullpenning. 38 comments

Most spring trainings are about filling one or two open slots. Right now, in the Rangers camp, it’s pretty much a crap shoot for the bullpen. Do Mike Minor and Matt Bush become starters? If they do, that significantly weakens an already bad bullpen, one without a clear-cut closer.

And that is a gaping hole. According to Evan Grant, last year the Rangers bullpen ranked dead last in the American League in save percentage, at 51 percent. No team lost more leads than the Rangers.

Blown saves and the inability to hold on to wins are morale killers for a team. Look what happened to begin the season last year. Sam Dyson came in and blew two of the first three games to lead to an eventual sweep at the hands of the Cleveland Indians and set in motion a downward spiral that the Rangers never recovered from.

Once Dyson lost his job, it fell to Matt Bush, who did well briefly then, too, faltered.

As bad as this team was offensively in 2017, a better bullpen would have made all the difference in the world. But, as he does with defense, Jon Daniels tends to overlook the pen. And both come back to haunt him when it matters.

He tried to plug in a closer with Seung-Hwan Oh, but that fell through. While not an elite closer, Oh saved 20 games last year for the Cardinals. And he was cheap. Also turns out he’s damaged goods. That’s the aisle Daniels shops on. This time it was more Damaged than Good.

There is an elite closer out there in Greg Holland. He would instantly stabilize the pen, and bring a huge sigh of relief to a team desperate for someone to save a game. But he would come with a high price tag. And does it make sense for a team that isn’t going to be competitive to go out and get a top-of-the-line closer? Unless they sign him with the understanding of trading him at the deadline to replenish the threadbare farm system. But that’s not Jon Daniels’s MO.

Every year for him, a bullpen is an afterthought coming into the season and the team scrambles to put something together

So for now, the search for the Rangers opening day closer continues. Whoever wins the job will probably not have it for long.

That’s how closers work.