The Texas Rangers bullpen was struggling even with a healthy Neftali Feliz at the back end. But, prior to Saturday night’s game against the Kansas City Royals, that bullpen took an even bigger hit.
The team put its closer on the 15-day disabled list with shoulder inflammation. It’s a move the team can’t afford because as Rangers manager Ron Washington says, they don’t really have anyone who has the closer’s mentality. “We’ve got no bona fide closer right now,” he told the media. “It’s that simple.”
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What isn’t simple at this point is finding the guy to take Feliz’s place as the closer. Either that or the team is going to use a “closer by committee” mentality. Something reliever Arthur Rhodes says isn’t going to change how the relievers in the bullpen face their roles.
“It’s not going to change our role, because eighth inning and the ninth inning are about the same,” Rhodes told the media. “We’ve just got to go out there and do what we’ve been doing, get guys out. … No mentality is going to change. I’m going to go out there and be Arthur, just do what I do.”
Rhodes has the experience of being a closer, so he could be the guy Washington turns to; especially since he’s a veteran guy who knows what it takes to close out a game.
After Feliz was put on the disabled list, the team called up right-hander Cody Eppley from triple-A Round Rock and quickly made his big league debut against the Royals on Saturday.
The Rangers have to hope the guys in the bullpen are up for the task of taking over for a young reliever who has been nothing but dominant when he comes in to a game in the ninth inning.
Whether Rhodes assumes the responsibility will not be known until the call is made by Washington. He is not the only reliever the Rangers manager can call on, so do not expect him to go with just one guy for the two weeks Feliz is on the shelf.
With outfielder Josh Hamilton missing for at least two months, an injury to their best reliever wasn’t something the Rangers could afford. However, if their offense continues to swat five home runs per night, maybe they won’t miss their closer at all, because there will not be any drama in the ninth innings.