It has been an interesting year for the Texas Rangers bullpen. They started off horrendous, but have pieced it together in the second half. Has soft throwing rookie Austin Bibens-Dirkx earned a spot on the 2018 roster?
The Rangers gave Bibens-Dirkx a chance and he’s never looked back. This season he’s 4-2 with a 4.55 ERA in 16 games (six starts) with Texas. He had a 3.04 ERA in six appearances at Triple-A Round Rock before being called up.
Two of the most reliable options out of the bullpen don’t even throw 91 miles per hour on average. This season Bibens-Dirkx is averaging 90.5 and lefty Alex Claudio is averaging 86.7 miles per hour. According to T.R. Sullivan, those two pitchers have the slowest fastballs on the Rangers.
Both pitchers throw slow yet Claudio is the closer, and Bibens-Dirkx has been one of the most reliable options. According to T.R. Sullivan, opponents are hitting .179 off Bibens-Dirkx when the at-bat begins with a strike.
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It’s clear that first pitch strikes are essential when you’re a soft tossing pitcher. It also gives manager Jeff Banister options to go from hard-throwing pitcher like Matt Bush to Bibens-Dirkx and throw off the hitters timing.
Having Bibens-Dirkx on the roster not only gives the Rangers starting pitching depth, but bullpen as well. Many organizations would love to have a guy like Bibens-Dirkx on the roster that can swing from both the pen and rotation.
Despite not having the prettiest of stats Bibens-Dirkx has earned a spot on the Rangers in 2018. Texas enjoys having that kind of versatility from a pitcher, and he’s done everything the team has asked of him.
It’s unlikely Bibens-Dirkx will be the No. 1 option out of the bullpen, but he’s useful. He brings something to the table that a lot of other pitchers don’t possess. Keep him around in Arlington for 2018 because he’s earned a spot.