Right-handed reliever Shawn Tolleson has been instrumental in the Texas Rangers’ playoff push. They enter play Thursday only trailing the Houston Astros in the AL West by two games, and Tolleson has performed admirably as the club’s closer.
Still, as MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan pointed out after Tuesday’s victory, Tolleson is entering uncharted territory as far as his workload is concerned. When play began Wednesday he had already amassed 61 appearances this season (second-most in the AL) and had more than 61 innings pitched under his belt (third in the AL).
Manager Jeff Banister commented on Tolleson’s workload when speaking with Sullivan, saying, "Shawn has been as good as anybody in the closer’s role. Even those guys get nicked from time to time. They are not going to be perfect. Shawn, prior to this year, had never closed a game. He has had to learn to be a closer at the Major League level."
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Sullivan added that the Rangers will try to minimize Tolleson’s appearances in non-save situations over the final few weeks of the regular season as they try and stretch out his effectiveness to prevent him from ‘burning out’, so to speak.
As for his role on the team, Tolleson expressed enthusiasm about getting to be a part of the fun: "It’s exciting. I have never been in this type of situation and never been on this type of team. It’s exciting, it’s what you play for. To have this role on this type of team is exciting. I don’t take it lightly. I want to win. [Tuesday] I was thrilled we won. Obviously I want to be sharper in my outing, but at the end of the day, it’s about having more runs than the other team. We’ll take any win we can right now."