Rangers bullpen in state of flux

Rangers bullpen in state of flux

WASHINGTON -- Doug Mathis is on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation, Luis Mendoza has been called up from Triple-A Oklahoma and Joaquin Benoit is available to pitch again.

Plus, C.J. Wilson is still the Rangers closer, although both he and Eddie Guardado were unavailable on Friday after pitching in all three games of the Braves series. Rangers manager Ron Washington said he was planning to use Jamey Wright as his closer if need be in Friday's game against the Nationals.

Otherwise, Washington said the job still belongs to Wilson, even though he went into Friday's game having allowed nine runs, including six earned on 11 hits and five walks in 6 1/3 innings over his last seven appearances.

"Right now, C.J. is still the closer," Washington said. "If there needs to be a change, there will be some conversations first, but there hasn't been any yet. He came into the season as our closer and we're going to give him the opportunity to work through these rough times."

Washington said Guardado would be the alternative, but right now he is the Rangers' most dependable setup reliever and is being relied on to handle the eighth inning. That job is normally handled by Benoit, but he hasn't pitched since June 7 because of shoulder inflammation. Washington said before Friday's game that Benoit is available again.

Mathis is not. He had two side throwing sessions on Thursday and Friday and both times, he felt stiffness and discomfort in his shoulder. The Rangers decided to put him on the disabled list and called up Mendoza from Triple-A Oklahoma.

"We can't be caught short playing in a National League park," Washington said. "We had to do something."

Mendoza was in the Rangers rotation in April before coming down with his own shoulder problems. The Rangers put him on the disabled list on April 25, and he began a medical rehabilitation assignment with Oklahoma on May 26. He lost his first two starts, but his last three have been terrific as he has allowed just one run in his last 15 innings. He also gave up just 10 hits and a walk while striking out 12.

Rangers relievers went into Friday's game with a 7.42 ERA for the month of June after suffering their 15th blown save on Thursday, the most in the American League. They have also pitched 260 1/3 innings, the most in the Major Leagues, while using 15 different relievers.

The bullpen has been in a state of flux almost from the beginning of the season but it's unlikely -- at least for right now -- that the Rangers can get help from the outside. There are some relievers who might be available at some point, including Heath Bell and Cla Meredith with the Padres, Jon Rauch with the Nationals, LaTroy Hawkins with the Yankees, Kevin Correria with the Giants, Damaso Marte with the Pirates and Brian Fuentes with the Rockies.

But assistant general manager Thad Levine said it's unlikely that the Rangers would be able to do something major right now.

"We're not having any active conversations right now," Levine said. "If we were willing to put up some of the depth that we've built up in our farm system then we could start pursuing some of the guys who are out there. But the players who are available today don't offer much of an upgrade to dip into the depth that we've created."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.