The Kansas City Royals last year showed how important a dominant bullpen can be. If the Royals' starters could get through six innings a year ago, it pretty much meant church for the opponent.
This year, the same can be said about the way the Houston Astros' bullpen is developing, and it's led to the Astros having the best record in the American League. The Rangers had a similar set up in their pennant-winning years with guys like Mike Adams and Alexi Ogando setting things up for Neftali Feliz and basically making games shorter.
The Rangers could be on their way to a similar setup this year, though it's far from being there yet.
Over the last month, the troika of Jon Edwards, who just recently arrived after a dominant run in Round Rock, rookie Keone Kela and newly appointed closer Shawn Tolleson has been lights out.
Edwards hasn't allowed a run in his 4 1/3 innings since being called up. Tolleson has a 0.63 ERA in the last 30 days with 16 Ks in 14 1/3 innings and a perfect mark of 6-for-6 on save chances. Kela, well, he's been getting into higher and higher leverage roles as the season has progressed, and he's responded by posting a 1.54 ERA in the last 30 days.
Again, we're far from being a sure thing with those three, but they appear to be a pretty nice end game for the Rangers, even in Jeff Banister's role-less bullpen.