Rangers’ bullpen suddenly looking fatigued, punchless

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The Rangers’ talented bullpen corps helped guide the team to convincing series wins in the ALDS against the Rays and the ALCS versus Detroit, but it’s now showing serious signs of fatigue three games into this 2011 Fall Classic. And it might only get worse.

Alexi Ogando, who yielded just four hits and one earned run over 10 1/3 innings in the first two rounds, has already surrendered four hits and five runs to the Cardinals in the World Series. Mike Gonzalez was pounded on Saturday. As was Scott Feldman. As was Darren Oliver. But it’s about more than results.

It’s also about usage.

The Texas bullpen threw a total of 117 pitches in Game 3’s 16-7 defeat. Game 4 starter Derek Holland made it through just 7 1/3 total frames in his two ALCS starts. Unless Holland dazzles unexpectedly, the Rangers’ relievers will again play a major role. And it’s safe to wonder whether they’re suited to meet the task.

The Cardinals carry a 2-1 series lead into Game 4 on Sunday night. Starting for them will be righty Edwin Jackson, who has also struggled to make it to the later innings. Might we see another softball-esque score?