Chavez getting more prominent role in bullpen
MINNEAPOLIS -- Rangers reliever Jesse Chavez has gone from mop-up to setup and earned a more prominent role in the bullpen.
Chavez even picked up the third save of his career when he pitched two scoreless innings in the Rangers' 8-1 victory over the Twins on Friday night. Chavez entered the game in the eighth inning with a three-run lead. Rangers manager Jeff Banister wanted to give setup relievers Jake Diekman and Jose Leclerc extra rest so he called upon Chavez.
He was supposed to pitch one inning and hand it over to closer Keone Kela. But the Rangers scored four in the top of the ninth so Chavez finished it off. Chavez was also the winning pitcher last Sunday when the Rangers rallied for a 13-12 victory over the Rockies.
"It's fun," Chavez said. "Those games are fun. Anytime you can contribute in the win it's awesome."
The significance is that the Rangers have won back-to-back games that both featured Chavez in relief. They are 5-18 in games he pitches, which was more of a reflection of his role as long reliever than his performance. His 3.33 ERA and 1.15 WHIP are the fourth lowest among pitchers on the active roster.
"Coming out of Spring Training, obviously he was the [reliever] with the most length," Banister said. "As he has continued to pitch, we have guys like [Matt] Moore who have length. The trust level I have with Chavez is right where it has been. I told him in Spring Training he could pitch anywhere and he has continued to throw extremely well. I like how he competes and manages the innings."
Chavez has 70 career starts, including 21 with the Angels last season. The Rangers have not used him in the rotation. Banister prefers the versatility that Chavez offers the bullpen.
"I have confidence pitching Jesse in any role," Banister said.
• The Rangers, going into Saturday, have had saves from three different relievers in the last three games: Kela on Tuesday, Diekman on Wednesday and Chavez on Friday. The last time that happened was in 2003 with Francisco Cordero, R.A. Dickey and Brian Shouse.
• Banister said Isiah Kiner-Falefa will get his second start at catcher on Sunday.
• The Rangers will face their former teammate on Tuesday. Tyson Ross is scheduled to pitch for the Padres in the second of a three-game series.