Bullpen Shuffle Leads to Unique Rotation, Much-Needed Victory

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With the set-up men in shambles and the closer in limbo, Rangers’ manager Jeff Banister on Sunday altered his bullpen plan.

As in, he went with no plan.

The result was a rotation the team never planned and may never use again. But on the afternoon after the bullpen blew another late lead the night before, even a temporary patchwork to nurse home a 5-1 win was a, well, relief.

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“I talked to those guys this morning collectively and individually and told them, that as we stand now, nobody has a specific role,” Banister said in his past-game press conference at Globe Life Park. “We will find the best match for this club one inning at a time. We will treat it that way for now and see where it goes.”

With Neftali Feliz blowing another save Saturday and injuries dictating a shuffle in personnel, Banister reached into his grab bag and found a winning formula featuring two minor leaguers and Shawn Tolleson in the 9th. The result? Ross Ohlendorf (one inning), Tanner Scheppers (two perfect innings) and Tolleson retired 12 of the final 13 Indians as Texas avoided a weekend sweep.

After starter Nick Martinez labored through 103 pitches over five innings, Banister summoned Ohlendorf, who was in Round Rock the previous day. Scheppers, who also arrived at the park around noon, then took the ball before giving way to Tolleson. Scheppers was the team’s planned set-up man, but was demoted early. And Tolleson was never expected to close.

But desperate times call for drastic measures.

The Rangers have blown five saves before the 9th and three in the final inning. Sunday’s set-up may not be repeatable. But for a day it was a welcome Band-Aid on the bullpen pain.

A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.

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