Banister's future with Rangers under discussion

September 20th, 2018

ARLINGTON -- This season's last-place finish in the American League West is likely to lead to major changes for the Rangers, and manager Jeff Banister could be among those in jeopardy.

Sources said the Rangers have had internal discussions about dismissing Banister, although a final decision is not expected until after the season. Texas is 64-88, and the club has lost 16 of its past 22 games and is headed for its second straight losing season.

General manager Jon Daniels is not commenting on the situation. Banister is under contract through 2019, while Daniels received a multiyear contract extension in June.

Banister is in his fourth season as the Rangers' manager. He led Texas to division titles in 2015 and '16, and he won the AL Manager of the Year Award in his first season. The Rangers dropped to 78-84 last season and have regressed even further this season.

The Rangers face a tough decision, considering the success that Banister had prior to this season and the club's philosophy going into this year. Texas entered the season admitting that this was not a year in which the club would be "all in" toward contending for postseason.

Instead, the Rangers were frugal with their offseason approach to building a pitching staff, declining to get heavily involved in the free-agent market. Daniels stated early on that their success would be measured by how much improvement was seen in their young players, and the results have been mixed.

The Rangers fell out of the race early because of injuries and poor starting pitching, going 11-19 in April, and they never recovered. Texas' starters are 42-63 with a 5.45 ERA, the second-highest mark in the AL. The pitching staff was essentially gutted as the season progressed, and the Rangers are ending the year experimenting with the curious idea of using relievers as "openers."

The Rangers began the season with a rotation of Cole Hamels, Doug Fister, Matt Moore, and Mike Minor. Only Minor has made it to the end of the season. Hamels was traded to the Cubs, Fister was lost for the season because of a right knee strain and Moore and Perez ended up in the bullpen. Texas has tried to piece it together with , , and others, without any sustained success. A crush of injuries to its Minor League pitching staff also inflamed the situation.

The Rangers also depleted their bullpen with midseason trades involving , Jake Diekman, and , while Matt Bush, Chris Martin and Tony Barnette were limited by injuries.

A losing season also invites a review of Texas' clubhouse atmosphere and communication, and the club's lackluster finish is not helping matters. Even if Banister is brought back next year, the Rangers are still likely to see other changes among their field staff.