While we all know you can never count on a bullpen to match a pristine performance one year to the next, the Rangers' bullpen looks to be in pretty good shape for the 2016 season after a stellar second half in 2015.
The Rangers' pen was a disaster over the season's first half, with the lone bright spots being closer Shawn Tolleson, who took over for Neftali Feliz in May and converted 35 of 37 save opportunities and young fireballer Keone Kela. But at the trade deadline, Jon Daniels overhauled the bullpen with a couple of no-names — Sam Dyson and Jake Diekman, who was the throw-in in the Cole Hamels deal — and got out-of-this-world performances from both, especially Dyson.
Now, the Rangers' bullpen is loaded with power arms who can be late-inning options in Kela, Dyson and Diekman, and a gutsy closer in Tolleson who might not have dominant, traditional closer stuff but gets the job done.
And the best thing about it all? It's all really, really cheap. Gone are the days of spending big money on guys like Joe Nathan. Instead, the only free agent in the bullpen is Ross Ohlendorf, who, God love him, but he's probably not coming back. Tolleson is up for arbitration and will get a raise, but still be affordable. Tanner Scheppers is up for arbitration too, and probably will be cut loose. Other than that, guys like Kela, Dyson, Diekman, Sam Freeman, Andrew Faulkner and Spencer Patton are all still pre-arbitration eligible, meaning they're super-cheap.
As we said, Tolleson will get a raise this winter, but that big threesome of Kela, Dyson and Diekman, will all three be under contract for less than $2 million in 2016. That's a beautiful thing.