Scheppers, Ohlendorf boost new-look bullpen
ARLINGTON -- After back-to-back nights of bullpen woes against the Indians, Rangers manager Jeff Banister sat his pitchers down Sunday and laid out a fresh game plan.
In this new-look Rangers bullpen, there are no roles, and there are no rules.
And after a 5-1 win Sunday -- at least for one day -- it appears to work.
"Brought all of our guys in, told each one of them, individually, collectively, that right now as we sit, nobody has a specific role, that we are going to find what is the best match for this bullpen, for this ballclub," Banister said. "We're going to continue to look at the hitters who are coming up each inning and what's the best fit or the best matchup with the best arm that we have out there at any given time."
On a busy day, the Rangers brought right-handed relievers Tanner Scheppers and Ross Ohlendorf to the Majors. Texas designated Kyuji Fujikawa for assignment and used Ross Detwiler's trip to the disabled list to bring in another arm for a bullpen that was growing more concerning by the day.
On Sunday, Ohlendorf and Scheppers went right into the fire. Nick Martinez gutted out five innings and allowed only one run despite the Indians getting nine at-bats with runners in scoring position.
Ohlendorf came in for the sixth and sent the Indians down 1-2-3. Scheppers followed with an eight-pitch seventh inning and came back out for spotless eighth.
Banister held true to his "no roles" proclamation, sending out Shawn Tolleson rather than Neftali Feliz in the ninth. Tolleson allowed one hit, but got out of the inning easily to seal the win.
"[Ohlendorf and Scheppers' performance] boosts us," Tolleson said. "We had a couple new guys and new faces, and they came out and threw really well, so you want to go out there and match it."
Feliz got up in the bullpen earlier in the game during Scheppers' second inning, but Banister said he liked the matchups with Tolleson based on the hitters the Indians had coming up.
It ended up not being a save situation, and Banister won't say Feliz is no longer the closer -- but he doesn't quite say he is, either.
"I didn't say that Feliz was not our closer," Banister said. "Every one of them are out there to pitch when we pick up the phone and call on them to be ready. … That was where we felt was the best place for Tolly to pitch."
Banister's approach isn't unheard of, and the Rangers are hoping it can at least be a temporary answer for a bullpen that brought a 6.02 May ERA into Sunday's game.
"I think as a bullpen you're a unit as it is," Scheppers said. "We're going to live and die together, and right now we're staffing it. That's the way they want it, and that's the way it's going to be."