Jun 19, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Texas Rangers relief pitcherShawn Tolleson
(37) throws against the Chicago White Sox in the ninth inning at U.S Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
While much of the focus the past week has been on the talks between the Texas Rangers and Philadelphia Phillies regarding Cole Hamels, there are other areas of need that this team needs to address. The Rangers have had one of the worst bullpens so far this season and even though they have showed flashes of excellence, there is too much inconsistency to rely on them for a playoff run.
The bullpen has a 12-12 record with a 4.46 ERA in 236.1 innings so far in 2015. The 4.46 ERA is good enough for 29th in all of baseball and the worst in the American League. The bullpen does not have dominant stuff, as they strikeout just 7.16 batters per 9 innings, good enough for 28th in the league and are the worst when it comes to home runs as they give up 1.29 home runs per 9 innings.
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In June, the bullpen ERA has drifted up to 5.15 with a 3-6 record and are striking out just 6.87 batters per 9 innings. Is it possible they are just getting unlucky this month? Not likely as batters against them have a .283 Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) which is right in the middle of the pack in the league. Is it that ERA is a poor measure of their success and an overused statistic? A popular stat for balancing ERA is Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) which is a stat that only accounts for what a pitcher can control which is walks, strikeouts, and home runs. When looking at FIP, the bullpen actually drops to worst in the league with a 5.46 so ERA may make them look better than they are doing.
Taking all of these things into consideration, if the Rangers make a move before the trade deadline it is going to need to be for some relief help. While it is always possible to make multiple trades, the type of players the Rangers will want to add to the bullpen will be the same pieces that come up in conversations for starting pitchers. Bringing in a closer will allow Shawn Tolleson to shift back to the eighth inning and create a strong late-inning combination. Let’s take a look at some top trade candidates to help fix this bullpen.