Texas Rangers: Can Jose Leclerc Be A Reliable Reliever?

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 02: Jose Leclerc (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 02: Jose Leclerc (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

Heading into the 2018 season, the Texas Rangers bullpen is actually stronger than it looks. Could a reliever such as Jose Leclerc emerge in 2018, and take the bullpen to that next level?

The sky’s the limit for Texas Rangers reliever Jose Leclerc, but he needs to find his command. Looking at his stats alone, many would be concerned if Leclerc could be legitimately counted on in the Rangers pen.

Last season, Leclerc went 2-3 with a 3.94 ERA in 47 games with two saves. He struck out 60 batters in 45.2 innings, but also walked 40 batters. 2017 was technically his rookie season, but he did pitch in 12 games during 2016.

The 24-year-old might have the best stuff in the Rangers bullpen. If he can find his command, Leclerc could develop into a Keone Kela type of reliever. Kela posted a 2.79 ERA in 39 games and struck out 51 batters in 2017.

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A reliever with a tremendous fastball, but when it comes to location, he looks lost. It happens all the time to young relievers, but often times they aren’t able to correct it. The Rangers could have an elite closer on their hands, but need to help him develop his pitches.

The good news is, Leclerc has likely already earned himself a spot on the 2018 roster. His lack of command could quickly get himself a ticket back to Triple-A. Allowing 40 walks in 45 innings is something that can’t happen.

The potential is there, but the Rangers need to work with him this year. Possibly slow him down and have him focus more on throwing strikes than tossing it 100 mph. It’s difficult to succeed when you can’t control the strike zone.

The Rangers have a truly special talent in Leclerc, but it’ll take a lot of work. Don’t expect him to reliable in 2018, unless he finds a way to control his location. At worst, he’s a backend reliever that can pitch in blowouts. Hopefully he can be more, but we’ll see if he’s improved this spring.