Gil LeBreton

Time for Rangers to dig deeper, after Dyson meltdowns

He still throws his sinker.

But Sam Dyson isn’t breaking bats with it these days. He’s breaking hearts.

Dyson’s two-homer, game-imploding, 10th-inning relief performance for the Texas Rangers on Wednesday night appears to have been the final straw.

How can a manager be expected to send in a reliever who’s been inducing more migraines than groundouts?

Dyson was supposed to be the anchor of the Rangers’ bullpen. Instead, he’s been a fissure. His earned-run average (10.80) actually masks a worse stat – six losses.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported on Twitter late Thursday that the Rangers “plan to move” Dyson and that “more than one [team] showed interest.”

When the bullpen starts accumulating individual losses, instead of saves and holds – Rangers relievers have a shocking 11 losses so far this season – would-be victories evaporate and fans’ hearts break.

The website Fangraphs charts an intriguing bullpen statistic: meltdowns. It’s a measure of how a reliever’s performance affected his team’s win probability percentage. By Fangraphs’ own definition, the really bad relievers chalk up 10-15 meltdowns over an entire season.

One-third of the way through this season, Dyson and Tony Barnette each have seven.

The frustration in manager Jeff Banister’s voice was obvious Wednesday when he described Dyson’s ongoing problems as an “extreme challenge.”

“He’s on our staff,” Banister said. “He’s one of our pitchers right now, and we have to find a way to continue to work.”

Translation: This is all I’ve got.

But he’s somebody else’s problem now, if Rosenthal’s report is accurate.

Acquired from the Marlins in a deadline trade in 2015, Dyson appeared to be worth every bit of the $3.52-million contract that he signed before this season. He was Team USA’s go-to setup man in the World Baseball Classic.

I’m as stunned by Dyson’s sudden ineffectiveness as he is. Dyson used to splinter the bats of left-handed hitters with his dirt-diving sinker.

But so far this season lefties are batting .517 against him. That is not a misprint.

The Rangers could no longer afford to insert him into major league games and pray that he’ll work his problems out.

General manager Jon Daniels has a major repair job on his hands, with Dyson likely gone and with Barnette and Jeremy Jeffress all pitching poorly.

When the news that Jose Leclerc is coming back from the disabled list prompts a party, you know the season is off the rails.

Daniels said Thursday that the club is actively seeking to improve its bullpen.

“It’s hard at this time of the year, but we’re exploring,” he said.

Jonathan Broxton, released by the Cardinals, should get a Daniels phone call. He is several years removed from his All-Star seasons as the Dodgers’ closer, but he’s available.

When Tyson Ross joins the rotation – perhaps as soon as next week – it could allow Nick Martinez to work out of the bullpen. Preston Claiborne and Clayton Blackburn seem like the best available dice rolls at Triple-A Round Rock.

Room on the 40-man roster shouldn’t be a problem with Peter O’Brien and Eddie Gamboa taking up space.

It’s only June, but the sirens are sounding. The meltdowns are piling up.

“We have to find a way” isn’t a strategy. It’s a prayer.

As Daniels said, the Rangers are “exploring” their bullpen options.

Dig deeply, I’d suggest.

Gil LeBreton: @gilebreton

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