The Rangers are primed to be the first team to make a closer change of the very young season. Sam Dyson has been incredibly bad to start the year for the team. The Rangers awarded the job to Dyson this year after he impressed with a 2.43 ERA and 38 saves over 70.1 innings in 2016. That was the kind of year an almost elite closer would have. He had his fair share of blowups in that season but he was able to lock down games on a regular basis. It’s no wonder that the Rangers felt good about coming into this year with Dyson in their ninth inning.
His 2.43 ERA has turned into a bloated 33.00. A quick look at this ERA suggests that he might have been dinged for one really bad start, but of his four appearances, three have been really, really bad. In his first outing he gave up three runs, in the next he gave up five runs. His third time out he settled down in a non-save situation with a clean inning but then he followed that up three earned runs.
He currently has a -0.9 WAR which is pretty generous considering he has blown three saves and he has been directly responsible for three losses. The Rangers haven’t shown their cards in terms of if they will replace him, but Dyson cannot get anyone out and they need to make a change.
Let’s break down their options.
Jefress would be the easy option to give the closer’s role. However, it may be a little to easy. It would be the easy option because Jeffress is the only other pitcher in the Rangers’ bullpen who has save experience (besides Leclerc’s sorta-save last night). Last year in a season that was split between the Brewers and the Rangers, he pitched to a 2.33 ERA, and 27 saves over 58 innings.
The Rangers should be looking for stability when making a change and although Jeffress has shown he can handle the role, he has not been stable so far this year with his 4.50 ERA. He should be the secondary option for closer.
Much can be made of Matt Bush’s rise and fall throughout his MLB career but he is a crazy good pitcher. He has the kind of stuff that you knew he would close games the first time he pitched. He has only one career save and he has not been all that stable as well this year but he is the pitcher with the most potential in the bullpen. Last year in his rookie season he pitched very well with a 2.48 ERA over 61.2 innings.
Matt Bush has the potential to be a Kenley Jansen type closer and he deserves to be the next in line for the closer’s job.
The Rangers have yet to make up their mind about the presumably vacant role, but aside from the front runners just about anyone in the bullpen could be used for saves. It’s a messy situation, but as a betting man I am confident that it is Bush’s to lose. One clue that we saw last night was that in an 8-3 win over the Angels, Jeffress was used while Matt Bush was not. This tells me that they may be saving Bush for a more traditional save situation.