The Texas Rangers officially have a closer crisis.
Sunday evening right-hander Sam Dyson blew his third save in three chances this season, turning a 7-6 ninth inning lead over the Seattle Mariners into an 8-7 walk-off loss (box score). The Mariners trailed 6-1 in the middle of the third inning, then chipped away for the win.
Here is the win probability graph for Sunday's game. This shows each team's chances of winning at any given point in the game based on the score, the inning, the outs, the baserunners, the whole nine. The Rangers had a 91.5 percent chance to win the game following Shin-Soo Choo's third inning home run.
Now, to be fair, Dyson did not allow a ball to be hit out of the infield Sunday. The ninth inning went infield single, stolen base, bunt single, intentional walk, walk to drive in the tying run, force out at home, infield single to score the winning run. The bases loaded walk to Mitch Haniger to tie the game was the worst thing Dyson did that inning. Two infield singles that deflected off defenders and a bunt single though? Eh.
That all said, Dyson has blown all three save opportunities this year, and he's allowed 13 runs on 14 hits and five walks in only 4 1/3 innings so far. Yikes. The first two blown saves were not death by a thousand cuts like Sunday's. Dyson got hit hard in those games. Manager Jeff Banister used Dyson with the Rangers trailing 5-0 on Saturday in an effort to get him back on track. Obviously it didn't work.
Fortunately, the Rangers do have some solid ninth inning alternatives. Jeremy Jeffress saved 27 games for the Milwaukee Brewers last season before being traded to Texas, so he has experience in that role. Matt Bush returned from a minor shoulder issue Sunday to strike out all three batters he faced. He's been a monster since arriving last year. There's always the closer by committee approach too.
Keep in mind Dyson was electric for Team USA during the World Baseball Classic. He emerged as manager Jim Leyland's primary setup man for closer Luke Gregerson in the second round of the tournament. All told, Dyson threw six perfect innings in the WBC. No hits, no walks, no runs. He struck out four in his five appearances. It's not like there were warning signs during spring training. These struggles have popped up during the regular season.
Even if the Rangers believe Dyson will right the ship at some point, it would make sense to get him out of the closer's role for a little while just to help him build confidence. Use him in the middle innings, use him in blowouts, that sort of thing. Jeffress and/or Bush are more than capable of closing in the interim. Enough damage has been done already. Texas can't keep sacrificing games with Dyson in the ninth inning.