Shawn Tolleson had his share of detractors last season after he was elevated to the closer's role in mid-May. It didn't make much sense, considering he was near the top of the league in save percentage, converting 35 of his 37 save opportunities.
But I'll be honest, I was one of them.
Tolleson just doesn't have the overwhelming stuff you're used to seeing from elite closers. Meanwhile, the Rangers had a young stud (Keone Kela) who probably wasn't ready for the heat of closer yet but sure looks like the closer of the future and a hard-throwing, no-nonsense guy (Sam Dyson) who was dominant after being acquired at the trade deadline from Miami.
In fact, Dyson was called upon once in the playoffs to get a save, not Tolleson, something manager Jeff Banister chalked up to a match-up issue. Whatever the case, the Rangers have plenty of viable options to be the team's closer in 2016 and have even acquired a couple of more in Seattle closer Tom Wilhelmsen and Tony Barnette, who recorded 41 saves last year in Japan. Oh, and there's Jake Diekman.
The bullpen is rich with arms, but Tolleson is unfazed.
"I see myself as the closer," Tolleson told The Dallas Morning News. "I'm not worried at all."
That's great to hear from Tolleson, but the fact remains, he might not be the closer next year, whether he's overtaken by Dyson or Kela or if he's shipped out of town for a starting pitcher, perhaps to Arizona.
Time will tell, but one thing is for sure, the Rangers' bullpen looks awfully potent at the moment.