The Texas Rangers believe building a strong bullpen is one of the keys to success in 2018. We already know about the top relievers in Arlington, but which pitcher is the most underrated heading into 2018?
It’s difficult to pick just one pitcher when the Texas Rangers have so many young hard-throwing relievers. One pitcher that has been overlooked and could be headed towards a breakout campaign is reliever Ricardo Rodriguez.
The 25-year-old made his MLB debut last season, but struggled during most of his time in Arlington. Rodriguez went 0-1 with a 6.23 ERA in 16 games with one save. It was a small sample size and it’s tough to judge him based off those statistics.
Rodriguez was tremendous in the minors last season. He went 5-1 with a 1.34 ERA in 35 games and 17 saves. He struck out 61 batters in 47 innings of work, and allowed just one home run in the minor leagues during 2017.
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His struggles in the MLB should be taken with a grain of salt. He allowed nine earned runs during his time in the Majors and just seven in 47 innings in the minors. The sky is the limit for Rodriguez, but the Rangers bullpen is stacked.
Assuming Matt Bush pitches in the bullpen for a majority of the season. The Rangers will have one, maybe two bullpen spots up for grabs in Spring Training. Rodriguez will need to earn his role in the Arlington bullpen in 2018.
Rodriguez has the potential to be a future closer, but the Rangers need to help him out. They need to put Rodriguez in situations where he can succeed and grow his confidence. He won’t be the closer in April, but could be a reliable late inning reliever by the end of 2018.