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Shawn Tolleson

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Shawn Mark Tolleson

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Biographical Information[edit]

Pitcher Shawn Tolleson reached the majors with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012.

Attending Baylor University, Tolleson sat out his freshman season in 2007 after Tommy John surgery, then redshirted in 2008.

Tolleson was selected by the Dodgers in the 30th round of the 2010 amateur draft. He was signed by scout Fred Costello and made his pro debut that summer with the Ogden Raptors, going 1-1 with an 0.63 ERA and 17 saves. After saving 25 games between three different clubs in 2011, he began the 2012 season with the AA Chattanooga Lookouts, posting a 1.38 ERA and 5 saves in 11 outings. Following a stint with the Albuquerque Isotopes, he was called up by the Dodgers in early June when Javy Guerra was placed on the disabled list.

He made his big league on June 7, 2012, walking the only two batters he faced in a game against the Philadelphia Phillies. He didn't fare much better in his next outing, giving up an earned run in one inning of work against the Seattle Mariners while striking out two. He went 3-1, 4.30 ion 40 games as a reliever for the Dodgers that season, although he pitched only 37 1/3 innings. In 2013, however, he hardly pitched because of arm problems, making a total of 5 minor league appearances and walking the only two batters he faced in his only major league game, on April 12th against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Dodgers placed him on waivers after the season, but he was claimed by the Texas Rangers.

Tolleson was one of the few bright spots on a Rangers pitching staff that set a major league record for most pitchers used during a season in 2014. He was the major league team the entire year, making 64 appearances out of the bullpen with a record of 3-1, 2.76. he was used for longer stints than in his rookie year, as he logged 71 2/3 innings, during which he gave up only 56 hits, walked 28 and struck out 69. On May 20, 2015, he picked up his first career save, pitching the 9th inning in a 2-1 win over the Boston Red Sox. The day before, manager Jeff Banister had announced that he would forgo pre-assigned role for his relievers for the time being, after the struggles of closer Neftali Feliz, which explains why Tolleson got a chance to pitch as a closer after being a middle reliever for his first 123 career appearances. He did not wait long to record save #2, however, as it came on the very next day. He settled down into the closer job, successfully converting his first 13 opportunities before allowing a game-winning two-run homer to Yangervis Solarte of the San Diego Padres on July 11th for his first blown save. He went 6-4, 2.99 in 73 games, recording 35 saves in the process. He posted an excellent K/W ratio of 76/17 in 72 1/3 innings. He also pitched three scoreless innings in two appearances in the Division Series against the Toronto Blue Jays.

After his breakout season, Tolleson struggled at the start of 2016. He had been charged with only 2 blown saves all season the previous year, but on May 17th, when he gave up a walk-off grand slam to Khris Davis of the Oakland A's with two outs in the 9th, turning a 5-4 lead into an 8-5 loss, it was already his fourth blown save of the year. His ERA rose to a bloated 9.20 after 18 games, but in spite of that, he was still leading the American League with 11 saves. Immediately after the loss, which was his second consecutive blown save, he was demoted from the closer role in favor of Sam Dyson. He pitched 37 times during the season, his last appearance coming at the end of July, at which point he was demoted to the AAA Round Rock Express. After a month there, he was placed on the disabled list with a lower back sprain, ending his season. His record in Texas was 2-2, 7.68 with the 11 saves; in AAA he had 1 save and a 12.46 ERA in 4 appearances.

Tolleson became a free agent after the 2016 season and on January 23, 2017, he signed a one-year contrat with the Tampa Bay Rays. However, he never pitched for Tampa Bay as he experienced discomfort in his elbow during spring training. He had to undergo Tommy John surgery again in May of that year. In December, he returned to the Rangers on a minor league deal and spent all of 2018 rehabbing, but without appearing in any games in either the major or minor leagues. The following January, after experiencing another setback in his rehabilitation, he announced that he was retiring as a player.

After his initial season, Tolleson went on nine-day humanitarian mission to the African country of Zambia along with his wife and teammate Clayton Kershaw and his wife. He and Kershaw are childhood friends from their days playing baseball while growing up in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Kershaw wanted to build an orphanage near the capital city of Lusaka, and the Tollesons volunteered to help him out.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 30 Saves Seasons: 1 (2015)

Further Reading[edit]

  • T.R. Sullivan: "Zambia relief mission gave Tolleson perspective: Rangers righty spent nine days helping build an orphanage in Lusaka in 2012",, January 10, 2014. [1]

Related Sites[edit]