Rain is in the forecast for Thursday, and a postponement of the series finale between the Texas Rangers and Boston Red Sox is on the table.
Maybe it would be best if the Rangers had an unexpected day off and could come back later in the season when the Red Sox hitters aren’t rolling and when the Rangers relievers might be in a better place.
The bullpen has been highly lousy in the first two games at Fenway Park, despite a hope-inspiring two-week stretch of improved pitching.
Hope is fleeting fast after Wednesday.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 9-4 loss.
1. A day after Jon Daniels said that that he hoped he could avoid adding any relievers before the trade deadline, buoyed by the Sunday performance of Sam Dyson, he might have to start considering all options.
Internally, there just aren’t many.
Seriously. Which reliever in the minor leagues could come up now and be an effective reliever? I’ll stop tying and give everyone a chance to answer the question.
(Cue the theme to Jeopardy.)
OK. One member of the media is voting for Preston Claiborne, a Dallas native currently at Triple A Round Rock who has big-league experience. Another suggested R.J. Alvarez, who fits the same mold as Claiborne.
Maybe Anthony Bass or Allen Webster? How about Connor Sadzeck at Double A Frisco? He’s a starter who the Rangers shouldn’t mess with, but these appear to be desperate times.
Dyson took a massive step back Wednesday as he failed to retired any of the seven batters he faced in the seventh inning. The Rangers led 3-1 when he entered with runners at the corners and one out.
Jeremy Jeffress has been really bad. How much can the Rangers trust Keone Kela? Tony Barnette, while getting outs for the most part, hasn’t been as sharp as last season. Dario Alvarez is a borderline big-leaguer. Alex Claudio can’t pitch every night, and Jose Leclerc is probably a week or 10 days away from coming off the disabled list.
(Who could have possibly thought on April 1 that the Rangers only seven weeks later would be pining for Jose Leclerc?)
Heck, Austin Bibens-Dirkx might be the Rangers’ second- or third-best reliever right now. Kela has been good of late, and Matt Bush has been one of the top relievers in the league so far.
The Rangers know what they’re facing. They also continue to say that it’s only May. They still have a chance to make the playoffs, but they bullpen can’t continue to be this unreliable.
It’s time to consider all options.
2. Martin Perez was headed for one of those innings. You know the one, when he implodes in a flurry of walks and hits only to recover splendidly and produce a quality start.
That inning was the third, and indeed it qualified as his messiest inning of the night. But rather than give up a crooked number, Perez limited the damage to only one run and then tossed three straight scoreless innings on 35 pitches.
He threw 35 pitches alone in the third, when he went to three-ball counts with five of the six Boston batters and nine of the game’s first 12.
The left-hander was at 102 pitches after six, and was sent back out for the seventh inning after retiring 9 of 11 batters. After getting the first hitter, back-to-back singles brought in Dyson, and the bottom fell out.
The biggest line of questioning to manager Jeff Banister afterward wasn’t about the step back for Dyson but the decision to give Perez another inning.
He shouldn’t have started the seventh.
His season-high for innings and pitches was 104 in his last start against an underwhelming Philadelphia offense with a big lead. Other forays into the seventh haven’t been quite as successful.
Granted, Perez hadn’t had any stressful innings since the third, but a 35-pitch inning takes a lot out of any pitcher. As carefully as the Rangers claim to monitor such things, they overlooked that one.
Maybe, because of the state of the bullpen, they have no choice but to press their starters for another inning when they ordinarily would be done. The Rangers can’t constantly go to Kela and Bush, as they seemed to constantly go to Dyson and Jake Diekman early in 2016.
Perez better get ready to go nine innings the next time he pitches.
Beltre was lucky enough to miss the seventh inning as he bolted early to catch a flight to Arizona for three days of extended spring games that he will use to get caught up on at-bats and time on his legs.
If all is well by Sunday, he could make his 2017 debut Monday and Joey Gallo could make his debut in left field.
Ross, meanwhile, will be pitching Monday for Triple A Round Rock at Omaha. He’s assignment is to go six innings and/or 90 pitches to continue building arm strength and make sure there’s not setback lurking in his back.
If all goes well and he stays on normal rest, he could start Saturday against Houston.
He would take Nick Martinez’s spot in the rotation, but with the state of the bullpen, perhaps Martinez wouldn’t be demoted to Round Rock. If the Rangers believe Martinez is one of their 13 best pitchers, they need to find a role for him in the bullpen.
He’s done it before, with some success. He can’t be any worse that what the Rangers have seen the past two nights at Fenway Park.