The Rangers will go without a definitive closer until someone shows a consistent ability to finish games.
The bullpen issues are made even muddier with the ailment currently keeping Keone Kela on a day-to-day basis. Kela has been beset with biceps tendonitis off and on for the past five weeks. He was unavailable June 30 against the Yankees and again Friday night and Saturday afternoon. The disabled list has been considered but not seen as necessary at this point, Banister said.
Blowing in the wind
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A look at the Ranger’s major-league leading 16 blown saves so far in 2017:
“We’ll use multiple pitchers out there based on who’s available to us and the set of hitters,” Banister said of the bullpen plan, which is not unlike the no-roles move in May 2015 when Shawn Tolleson emerged as the closer. “We’re not committed to one single guy.”
That means Alex Claudio and Jose Leclerc are the likely candidates to finish games if Kela is unavailable.
“Kela probably has the best stuff to be able to do it but at this point it might be two guys in the inning just based on the match ups,” Banister said.
Bush was named the closer after Sam Dyson blew four saves in his first four opportunities this season. Dyson was eventually designated for assignment before being traded to the Giants. Bush has blown five of 15 save chances, including three in his past five appearances.
“We’re going to continue to work with Matt, get him back to where he needs to be,” Banister said. “We’ve got to find what our best recipe is to get the 27th out.”
At this point, Banister is ready to try anything in the bullpen, which is 13 of 29 in save chances, a 44.8 save percentage that is the lowest in the majors. Friday’s loss was their fifth when leading after eight innings. They only had four such losses in 2016.
“How we get there, how we do it, traditional, non-traditional, it’s figuring out who is going to be able to stand out there in the last inning and get the last out. I’d like to think that’s traditional,” Banister said. “We’ve got to find the formula that best suits the Texas Rangers. A winning formula.”