Until the Rangers get reliable relief pitching, this is going to continue.
It was unrealistic to think the Rangers could continue scoring ten runs per game. Offenses just don’t do that.
And it’s unrealistic to think these relief pitchers will suddenly figure it out. That’s wishful thinking. You’re not getting a pony from Santa Claus. And the Rangers are not going to win until they get a bullpen.
Top of the seventh, the Rangers get a single and a double to start the inning. The Red Sox bring in a reliever who extinguishes the fire. Groundout. Strikeout. Intentional walk. Groundout. No runs.
Bottom of the seventh, the Red Sox get a groundout, a walk, a double, and a walk to start the inning. The Rangers bring in a reliever who throws lighter fluid on the fire (more lighter fluid than the one who walked two to load the bases in the first place). Single. Single. Single. Bring in another reliever. More lighter fluid. Force out. Single. Single. Single. Six runs.
In an era when starting pitchers go only six innings, that means three innings, or one-third of every game, is in the hands of relief pitching. No matter how great the starting pitching is, a third of the game is vulnerable. That means the Rangers need to realistically be ahead by five runs after the sixth inning to have a legitimate shot to win. And that’s not realistic.
Aroldis Chapman and Will Smith are good for one inning each, and not every game.
With the trade deadline coming up at the end of the month, the Rangers have to ask themselves this: Knowing windows of opportunity like this don’t come up often and aren’t guaranteed next year, do they part will all that talent in their pipeline for bullpen help?
The best way to answer that is: Do they want to win this year?
Because, until the Rangers get reliable relief pitching, they won’t.