Texas Rangers Closer Options Need to Be Reassessed

Four wins, eight losses, four games back of in-state rivals the Houston Astros, and last place in the uber-competitive American League West Division.

That’s how the Texas Rangers have fared in the first two weeks of the Major League Baseball season, recently being swept by the Seattle Mariners in a three-game away series.

Many fans and pundits point fingers at the absence of All-Star third baseman Adrian Beltre, who has yet to make his 2017 debut. While missing a 32-home run, .300-hitting, Gold Glove winner is difficult, Joey Gallo (26-HR pace) has been stellar at third early on.

The biggest, most glaring issue was once again revealed as yesterday was the third blown save for closer Sam Dyson, who had 38 saves for last season’s division champions. Dyson’s stats read, without a single typo: 0-3, 4.1 innings pitched, 27.00 earned run average.

Dyson has allowed 13 runs in six appearances after allowing only 19 runs in 73 games last year. How can 2015 AL Manager of the Year Jeff Banister and Texas address this?

Perhaps the best option is 23-year-old righty Jose Leclerc, the only Rangers pitcher credited with a save this season. Banister’s trust with the young Dominican will have to improve, as Leclerc has appeared in only 17 MLB games, but with so few options available as Jake Diekman still recovers from an offseason colon surgery, Leclerc is likely the preeminent pitcher remaining.

Alex Claudio could become the number-one closer option, but that would greatly depreciate the depth of the bullpen; Claudio is often the first left-handed pitcher to be summoned to the mound, and lefty relievers are far too valuable to move their position around.

The Rangers have had four bonafide closers over the last four seasons (Dyson, Shawn Tolleson, Joakim Soria, and Joe Nathan) — perhaps they’re in line for their fifth. Be it Claudio, Leclerc, or established Rangers relievers like Matt Bush or Jeremy Jeffress, it won’t for long be Dyson.

Texas begins a three-game series against Oakland in California tonight, April 17.

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