How much confidence is there with Sam Dyson as the Texas Rangers closer?
Granted, Dyson has struggled of late with two blown saves in his last five chances. But let’s be fair and dig a little deeper into his performance this season.
Overall, the 28-year old reliever has converted 27 of 31 opportunities and is sixth the American League with 27 saves. Dyson had a Major League-best 10 saves in the month of June, one short of matching the club record for a month. He’s had saves in eight of his last 12 appearances.
There’s the good, now here’s the flip side of it.
Dyson has a tendency of making things interesting in the ninth. Saves don’t come easy, and as shown earlier, Dyson gets the job done more often than not. But many Rangers fans sometimes feel like breaking out the Maalox in the process.
One reason may be Dyson’s numbers against left-handed hitters going into Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays, which are a little worrisome. Lefties are hitting .281 this season against Dyson, compared to right-handed hitters hitting .219 against the Rangers righty.
Some of those numbers are going to jump up a little bit after the Rangers’ 8-4 loss to the Rays Sunday afternoon. However, it wasn’t a save situation as the Rangers were already down two runs going into the bottom of the eighth. Dyson gave up a lead-off double to lefty Brad Miller, then left a fastball over the middle of the plate to righty Steven Souza Jr., who got all of it for a two-run homer that put the game out of reach.
Now if you are asking why the Rangers closer was in the game in a non-save situation; great question. That’s something the Rangers have done over the years, whether it was under Ron Washington or Jeff Banister. In fact, other teams in the majors also have a tendency of doing it, so it’s not happening in Texas. Whether it’s the right move or not is very debatable.
In this instance, there could be a couple of reasons why. First of all, the feeling may have been to bring Dyson in to keep the deficit at two and give the Rangers a chance in the top of the ninth. Second, it gave Dyson an opportunity to get some work in and not go stale. Did it do more harm than good? That remains unclear at the moment.
Despite today’s outcome, what many like about Dyson is his bulldog mentality, which you need to have in order to close the door for the win. Remember last year’s Game 5 against the Toronto Blue Jays in the ALDS? Dyson did give up the go-ahead three-run homer to Jose Bautista (The Bat Flip Incident), but also got into a couple of altercations with Edwin Encarnacion and Troy Tulowizki, which caused both benches to clear. Whether you agree with it or not, that was a result of Dyson not backing down. Got to respect that.
So if you are not sold on Dyson as the closer, what are the other options? The bullpen is solid with Jake Diekman, Keone Kela, Matt Bush, Jeremy Jeffress and Tony Barnette to go along with Dyson. If Diekman moves to the closer role, you are left with four righties and one lefty (Alex Claudio), which could lead to matchup problems down the road. Kela and Bush could be closers in the future, because both bring the heat out of the pen. Those two are nice to have as a backup plan in case the wheels fall off.
Right now the role belongs to Dyson, and it’s worked for most of the season.
Written by C. James