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By: Jared Sandler

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SURPRISE, ARZ (105.3 The Fan) – Shawn Tolleson is the closer of the Texas Rangers, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll pitch every save situation so long as he’s rested. Rangers manager Jeff Banister acknowledged that, “Shawn Tolleson is our closer,” but also acknowledged that individual games dictate different scenarios.

Read between the lines: Shawn Tolleson will start the season as the team’s primary closer, but, even when rested, he isn’t necessarily going to be pitching in the ninth inning of every save situation like most closers do. Jeff Banister and his staff will continually evaluate the situation and the matchups and make the best decision with the information they have on a regular basis.

I. Love. This

It has never made sense to me that teams will play the matchups like crazy in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings, yet ignore the matchups in the ninth. They’ll go with the same damn guy everytime, even if all the data they use to examine matchups in the preceding innings advise against it.

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If you’ve go Mariano Rivera or Trevor Hoffman then by all means, use them no matter what. No one hit those guys. But while the marquee closers get all the attention, they really are the exception. With all due respect to Shawn Tolleson, after one year of closing–and having a helluva season doing so–pardon me if I’m not ready to put him in that category.

Jeff Banister prides himself on embracing traditions but not always being traditional with his methods, constantly looking for ways to improve the way things are done. By constantly evaluating who is best to pitch the ninth inning for a given day, he’s doing just that–bucking the norm in search of a better way.

He’s able to do that because of the team’s great bullpen depth. Tolleson and Tom Wilhelmsen have all had success closing in the Majors and Tony Barnette twice led the Japanese league in saves. Keone Kela, Jake Diekman, and Sam Dyson have all demonstrated the dominance of a guy fit to close out a ballgame, too. Without that depth, it might be tougher to play the matchups, but that’s not the Rangers’ problem.

So who is this team’s closer? Shawn Tolleson.

Who is going to pitch the ninth inning on April 4th if the Rangers are leading in a save situation? Whoever gives them the best chance to get those final three outs.

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Why should it be any different?