Mac Engel

Rangers’ problems extend beyond closer, but Dyson had to be replaced

Texas Rangers manager Jeff Banister doesn’t have to go United on Sam Dyson, but one more blown save by his closer this month and Ray Davis himself may have had to reallocate the pitcher to Double A.

One more blown save by Dyson this month and no amount of Pepsi was going to save him.

Banister did right by his guy by giving him another chance Sunday in Seattle, and he has to do right by his team by going to someone else. This includes the moment Dyson comes off the 10-day disabled list with a hand — cough cough — “contusion.”

In a six-month season a manager must stick by his guys who have consistently put up numbers or risk clubhouse revolt. But this Dyson skid was not the equivalent of Rougned Odor swinging his way through an 0-for-21 streak.

Dyson had blown a season’s worth of saves in the first two weeks of the season. In his six appearances this season, only once had he not permitted a base runner.

Dyson was costing his team wins that even in a season as long as baseball’s are eventually precious. As a veteran, Dyson gets it, and even he knew he had to be Shawn Tolleson’d.

Although Dyson is good enough to earn the job back, now was no time for tryouts.

This is a scary thought: Matt Bush will make or break the Rangers in 2017, which illustrates just how shaky this whole operation was from the moment the team began spring training.

And that is completely on the general manager/president of baseball operations, who has spent his team into playoff contention but not World Series contention.

It is on Jon Daniels to fix his $175 million-payroll team and, by the looks of it, he needs your prayers, because he is stuck with these players.

Bush should be the team’s closer. He has the best stuff in the bullpen, complete with the power to strike out the side, as he did Sunday on 11 pitches in the eighth inning.

But no one knows if he can do it over the course of a season, because he’s never done it. Standing at 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds, he does not possess prototypical size, either.

And now he’s dealing with a shoulder issue that required a cortisone shot.

Jeremy Jeffress is another version of a Dyson; he’s not a strikeout guy, but while in Milwaukee he was decent as a closer.

Although JD said Keone Kela “is an option,” he has to demonstrate he’s a trustworthy adult. After a well-earned demotion to the minors, this talented hothead allowed five hits in four innings at Triple A Round Rock.

Because of Dyson’s injury, Kela was promoted Monday with the tacit understanding of “grow up and stop being a fool.”

As far as the closer’s role goes, it’s Matt Bush, or it’s Matt Bush.

Dyson should not see the ninth inning again until he proves to his teammates and himself that he can get guys out. His confidence has to be shot, and his teammates’ confidence in him can’t be too far behind.

In fairness to JD, Banister, pitching coach Doug Brocail and Dyson, there were no signs that he was set to toss batting practice once the regular season began.

In three spring training appearances for the Rangers, he didn’t allow a run. In five appearances for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, he struck out four and did not allow a hit, a walk or a run.

As evidenced by Tolleson from 2015 to ’16, relievers routinely blow hot and cold, and it’s simply a matter of time when they lose it. As evidenced by his season so far, Dyson has lost it. With a salary of $3.5 million, the team could flush him, but he’s been too good to evict because of a rotten start.

That said, to put the third-worst start in baseball all on Dyson is incorrect.

One of the least appreciated strengths of the Rangers in the last two seasons is that they play in the weakest division in baseball. Law of averages says eventually the AL West is no longer going to be a dog. If the Astros, Mariners and Angels are improved, a third consecutive Rangers AL West title is not happening.

The defense, a problem each of the last two years, looks to be the same, and third baseman Adrian Beltre is still hurt.

And now their bullpen is a mess.

JD, you built it. Now you fix it.

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram