The 2014 season hasn’t been kind to the Texas Rangers, but one bright spot has been the bullpen.
Despite the Rangers’ record, the worst in baseball, it could be worse without a stable and mostly reliable corps of relief pitchers.
Neal Cotts, Shawn Tolleson and Scott Baker have been the workhorses for the Rangers, who have four relievers who’ve made their major league debut since July 8.
“They’ve done an outstanding job. We’re keeping ourselves in ballgames and they’re the reason why,” manager Ron Washington said.
The Rangers are second in the AL with 3951/3 relief-innings pitched.
“The guys have pitched efficient innings. They’ve kept pitch counts down to be able to go multiple innings,” Baker said. “If it doesn’t preserve the win, at least it keeps you in the game.”
Tolleson leads in relief innings with 58 1/3, followed by Cotts 53 1/3 and Baker are (40 1/3). And Washington has been able to rely on young players, such as rookies Roman Mendez and Alex Claudio.
“We get some short outings from our starters and have to get three or four innings from the bullpen to stay around in the ballgame,” Washington said. “I can’t say enough about the young kids that have come up.”
Mikolas going home
Miles Mikolas is excited about making a start close to home when the right-hander takes the mound on Tuesday against the Miami Marlins.
He grew up in Jupiter, Fla., about 85 miles north of Marlins Park.
He’s also hoping to rebound from his last start when he allowed 10 runs.
“I’ve had my ups and downs, gave up a few runs my last time out, but I think I did a good job managing my pitch count and still getting into the seventh inning,” Mikolas said. “I want to make as many good impressions as I can.”
He’s also looking forward to swinging the bat in a National League park.
“I had a few at-bats with the Padres a couple years ago to no avail,” he said. “To be able to get a hit, put some average points up there, but even if I put down a bunt, move some guys over and help us manufacture some runs will be nice. It’ll be fun to swing the bat, always is,” he said.
Mendez still strong
Mendez made his major-league debut on July 8 and continues to impress Washington.
“Mendez has power stuff. So far, he’s been pounding the strike zone,” Washington said.
The 24-year-old has a 1.40 ERA in 17 appearances (three runs in 19 1/3 innings) this season and is off to a good start this month (one run in 7 1/3 innings).
“When you have the type of stuff Mendez has, it’s really satisfying that he has that mindset to attack,” Washington said.