The Texas Rangers' bullpen has been the worst in the American League this year. Other than closer Shawn Tolleson, it's been a constant battle to find roles for guys with changing faces seemingly every week.
The trades for Jake Diekman and Sam Dyson have seemingly solidified things a bit, but it's still shaky.
On Tuesday night against the first-place Astros, it was anything but shaky.
Yovani Gallardo left the game in the sixth inning after allowing a lead-off homer to Carlos Gomez and walking Carlos Correa. With a 4-3 lead, Jeff Banister went to lefty Sam Freeman, who's been pretty good lately but has been stress-inducing despite not allowing many runs.
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Freeman eventually loaded the bases before getting out of the inning without any further damage. Sixth inning, check.
In the seventh inning, Banister went to the erratic Spencer Patton, who's been really bad as of late.
Patton quickly got Jason Castro to fly out to center before striking out two of the Astros' best hitter, Jose Altuve and Gomez, to end the inning in what was one of the night's bigger fist-pump moments. Seventh inning, check.
The eighth went to Diekman, who aside from a four-pitch walk to the only batter he faced on Sunday, has been lights out since being acquired in the Cole Hamels deal from the Phillies. The hard-throwing lefty induced three quick ground-outs. Eighth inning, check.
The ninth inning was edge-of-the-seat drama from start to finish, as Tolleson worked his sixth game in seven days and second straight. He led off with a walk and a single before getting a ground-out and striking out Castro and Altuve with runners on second and third. Game, check.
“This was a huge night for our bullpen,” Tolleson told the Dallas Morning News. “Just get the job done. That’s something we haven’t done enough of this season.
“Sometimes it’s not going to be pretty. Some guy might throw up an ugly inning, like mine.”
It was a big night for the bullpen for sure, and one that can galvanize a much maligned group. That could be huge moving forward.