Rangers seek consistency from relievers

Pitchers with proven track records having up-and-down seasons

Rangers seek consistency from relievers

BOSTON -- Manager Jeff Banister said there are no quick fixes or short-term answers to the Rangers' bullpen. Banister said Texas needs to find a high level of consistency because the frustrating part about the 'pen is the ups and downs his relievers have experienced.

There are times when the Rangers' bullpen looks as good as expected back in Spring Training, with a group of power arms that shut down games. There are other times the relievers are erratic as they have been for the first two games in Boston.

"We are going to continue to look for the best possible matchups and find guys who can get us outs," Banister said. "I still believe in these guys. They have a proven track record. They are quality bullpen shutdown pitchers. But they have been challenged.

"That's why we continue to search for the right mix and the right matchups."

Prior to Boston, the Rangers went through an 11-game stretch in which the bullpen was outstanding. During those 11 games, Rangers relievers had a 1.83 ERA, a .093 WHIP and a .207 opponents batting average.

But they have allowed 12 runs in 4 2/3 innings in two games against the Red Sox.

"We sit down every day and pump each other up," reliever Jeremy Jeffress said. "We tell each other there isn't anything we can't do if we stick to our strengths. Do that and things should go our way. The last two nights, we made some good pitches and the ball found some holes. You can't do anything about that. You have to stick to your strengths and keep going."

Bush K's Avila for the save

The Rangers' most consistent relievers have been closer Matt Bush, right-hander Keone Kela and left-hander Alex Claudio. Tony Barnette has been hot and cold, left-hander Dario Alvarez has been used sparingly and Austin Bibens-Dirkx is the long reliever.

Sam Dyson and Jeffress have been the biggest mysteries. Both are former closers with the proven track record mentioned by Banister. But both have not been what the Rangers expected consistently. Texas has been outscored, 112-86, over the final four innings of games this season, including 38-20 in the seventh.

"You are relying on guys who have track records and have been good for years," Banister said. "I know it's been a challenge, but right now there are no quick fixes."

The Rangers are hoping to get rookie right-hander Jose Leclerc back. He is on the disabled list with a bruised right finger, but is expected to start throwing off the mound on Friday. He was emerging in the bullpen when he got hurt.

"I do believe when we get Leclerc back, it will bolster the seventh or eighth," Banister said. "But even with Leclerc, he is an inexperienced guy who has been on the disabled list."

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.