That may have been the most frustrating game since Jeff Banister took over as manager of the Texas Rangers.
- Colby Lewis started today, and overall, I thought he pitched like you'd normally expect Colby Lewis to pitch. Another dubious strike zone seemed to bite him at times, and Delino DeShields had a game to forget in center field.
- Speaking of DeShields, we have to be nearing the point of getting him out of center field. He's blazing fast. We all know this. However, he negates all of his speed and then some by continually getting bad jumps on the ball. There were at least 4 balls today that he makes a play on with a better jump, and one of them could have saved a run.
- Now, to the fun part: Jeff Banister's bullpen usage. Heading into the bottom of the 9th inning in a tie game, Banister elected to use Tom Wilhelmsen. The same Tom Wilhelmsen who walked 4.4 batters per 9 innings from 2013-2015 and has shown little to no command in 2016. And Wilhelmsen very nearly delivered on blowing the game had it not been for a spectacular Nomar Mazara catch that saved a walk-off home run to end the 9th inning.
- Phil Klein worked the 10th inning, and looked solid in striking out all three hitters on 11 pitches. It seemed to be a spot in which Klein could perhaps come in for another inning, but after 26 pitches yesterday, I guess it wasn't in the cards.
- Instead, Nick Martinez worked the 11th, and he was terrible. He couldn't find the strike zone, and it ended up forcing the Rangers to go with 5 infielders with the bases loaded and no outs. Martinez ended up giving up a walk-off single that scored Austin Jackson, and that was that.
- For the life of me, I can't figure out the bullpen usage in this game. Jake Diekman has thrown 20 pitches in the last 10 days, didn't pitch yesterday, yet was apparently unavailable. As one of Texas's best relievers, it didn't make much sense for him to not be utilized in such high-leverage situations. Shawn Tolleson has a bit more recent mileage on his arm, but didn't pitch yesterday either, so I'm a bit curious as to why he wasn't utilized. Turning to Martinez, who hadn't pitched in 11 days, was certainly odd.
- Look, I realize that Jeff Banister is beloved by most of the fan base. He is, by all accounts I've seen, a great guy with a great story, so some people are naturally taken aback when he gets some criticism. Regardless, he's a manager in baseball, and no matter the accolades or kind of guy, it doesn't make him immune to criticism. And thus far this season, he's done a less-than-ideal job in handling the bullpen. I don't know how much responsibility Doug Brocail and Banister each have in determining bullpen usage, but at the end of the day, Banister gets the final say, so he's the one that gets to shoulder the criticism when it's merited. I love Jeff Banister as the manager of the Rangers, but he dropped the ball today.
- Texas had plenty of opportunities to score today, and much of the failure of the offense centered around Prince Fielder and Mitch Moreland. Thus far in 2016, Moreland has been exactly league-average with a wRC+ of 100, and Fielder has been well below that with a wRC+ of 40. Moreland is at least hitting the ball hard, but it's Fielder that concerns me. He's chasing more than ever, and many of his first-pitch swings are turning into easy popups or weak grounders.