Closing games out has been a bit of a problem for the Rangers early this season. Jose Leclerc recorded his first career save on Wednesday, and could have a future in the ninth inning role.
Wednesday night was interesting for the Texas Rangers bullpen as 23-year-old Jose Leclerc was asked to close down the game in the ninth. This happened because Sam Dyson was unavailable, Matt Bush was in Texas getting treatment for his injury, and Jeremy Jeffress was already used in the game.
The Rangers had Leclerc enter in a 6-3 game in the eighth inning with a runner on second base, and asked him to get Mike Trout and Albert Pujols out. According to T.R. Sullivan, Rangers manager Jeff Banister had this to say about Leclerc’s performance on Wednesday.
“It was one of those moments that we watched him grow up before our very eyes,” Banister said. “Just how he handled the situation, very calm on the mound, throwing strikes, trusting the catcher. He had to face the heart of their lineup.”
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“What I needed to do was throw strikes,” Leclerc said. “Throw my changeup that cuts and my sinking fastball. I’ve never been in a save situation. I’m glad they gave me the chance.”
This season Leclerc has pitched in four games, he’s finished two, and has one save. He’s showing some electric swing-and-miss stuff as Leclerc has struck out seven batters, and walked none through his first four appearances.
Rangers manager Jeff Banister is not shy about throwing young pitchers into big situations. If Dyson is unable to hold down the ninth inning role then Leclerc could be next in line.