Posted on: October 29, 2011 2:42 am
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Posted on: October 29, 2011 2:37 am
ST. LOUIS -- The innings added up. The innings caught up to them.
We don't know for sure if that's the answer for what happened to the Rangers bullpen, but it seems like a reasonable guess.
We do know the results.
In six American League Championship Series games against the Tigers, the Ranger relievers were basically unhittable, with a 1.32 ERA.
In seven World Series games against the Cardinals, the Ranger relievers were basically unwatchable, with a 7.43 ERA.
"The bullpen won the ALCS," general manager Jon Daniels said. "Then they struggled here."
The bullpen pitched too much in the first two rounds, because the starters didn't pitch enough. To be fair, the Cardinals had the same problem . . . and maybe that's why their bullpen leaked a little at the end, as well.
You could see it happening. I wrote about it when the Rangers lost Game 3. Mike Adams admitted then that fatigue could be setting in, especially with ALCS difference-maker Alexi Ogando (who would end up allowing 14 baserunners in just 2 2/3 World Series innings).
When it was over, Adams said he wasn't sure.
"You never know," he said. "I'm not sure you can say that's why we weren't as effective.
"The bullpen had a good run. We just didn't pitch as well [in the World Series] as we did in the last series."
You've got to think the workload had something to do with it. But it's not like they could have done much to lighten that load, short of risking an ALCS loss by forcing more innings from their rotation.
"You're aware of it," Daniels said. "But at that point, there's not much you can do about it."
He had tried. He was as active as any GM in seeking bullpen help in midseason trades, adding Adams, Koji Uehara and Mike Gonzalez. But Adams seemed to run out of gas, Uehara was a complete bust in the postseason (three appearances, three home runs), and Gonzalez was only mildly effective.
And the bullpen that beat the Tigers never made it to the World Series.
The bullpen that won the ALCS basically lost the World Series.
Posted on: September 2, 2011 10:42 pm
BOSTON -- Friday in the Boston Globe, columnist Dan Shaughnessy called Red Sox-Yankees the "overdue dream ALCS matchup."
Spend enough time in this part of the country, especially during Red Sox-Yankees week, and you can get sucked into believing that an all-AL East ALCS is not only overdue and dream, but also inevitable.
Until the Rangers come to town and remind you that they are the defending American League champions.
Friday's reminder was a loud one, with three home runs and a 10-0 win over the Red Sox.
Yes, there is another AL team capable of going to the World Series, and it's the same team that went there last year.
The Rangers themselves would rather not talk about it, because unlike the Yankees and Red Sox they're not yet close to guaranteeing their spot in the playoffs. Their 3 1/2-game lead over the Angels, entering play Friday, gives them the most tenuous hold of any of the eight teams currently in playoff position.
"I don't think that far ahead, because there are no guarantees in this game," manager Ron Washington said. "We haven't won anything yet."
But while winning the West is not an insignificant issue, it's reasonable to assume that the Rangers will hold off the Angels. It's also reasonable to think that they could pose a real threat to the Red Sox and/or the Yankees.
The lineup is basically the one that eliminated the Yankees last October, with Adrian Beltre, Mike Napoli and Yorvit Torrealba in place of Vladimir Guerrero and Bengie Molina.
Yes, but Cliff Lee is gone.
Yes, he is. But the Rangers' rotation is deeper than you think, and the Rangers have strengthened their bullpen so much that they can limit the outs they need from those starters.
"You make the best of what you have," pitching coach Mike Maddux said Friday. "And I like what we have."
The Rangers made the best midseason move in baseball last year when they traded for Lee. They made the best series of midseason moves this year with their deals for relievers Mike Adams, Koji Uehara and Mike Gonzalez, as colleague Scott Miller detailed a few weeks back.
With strong lineups all around the American League -- and rotation questions all around, too -- this year's AL playoffs could well be decided by the bullpens. The Rangers, who read the trade market well, could be in as good position as anyone.
The challenge for Maddux and Washington is to keep their starters from getting too worn down before October begins.
C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis both pitched through October last year, and you wonder about how that will affect them. Alexi Ogando is a converted reliever who has already pitched more than twice as many innings this year as he did all of last year.
Derek Holland, who beat the Red Sox by throwing seven shutout innings and allowing just two hits Friday night, has pitched more innings than he did a year ago.
"I'm not concerned," Washington said. "But of course we're looking at it. There is some drawback to these young guys not being there before, but it is also something they have to experience. Every starting staff in baseball that makes it to the postseason, consistently, they have to go through it before they figure it out.
"So we're going through it."
Wilson said Friday he feels better physically than he did entering September a year ago, saying he "refined" his workouts and has seen the effect.
Privately, the Rangers hope that they can create some distance between themselves and the Angels soon, in part because it would enable them to give their starters (and even some of their position players) extra rest before October.
Publicly, they say they don't expect the Angels to go away.
But the Rangers also believe that they're more ready for what's ahead, this month and probably next, than they were a year ago.
"Last year, we were constantly talking about staying focused," Michael Young said. "This year, there's no need to talk about it, because we know. We just know it."
They know that, and they know they're good.
And if everyone in the Northeast (and a bunch of people elsewhere) want to assume that this year is all about the Red Sox and Yankees, the Rangers aren't going to worry about it.
"That doesn't bother us at all," Young said. "It's a great rivalry (Yankees-Red Sox). I think if you go to our part of the country, I think you'd find that a lot of people are talking about us."
Win again in October, they'll have people talking everywhere.