Texas Rangers: Should Seung-hwan Oh Be The Closer?
By Andrew Webb
The Texas Rangers have reportedly agreed to a deal with veteran reliever Seung-hwan Oh. He is by far the most experienced reliever on the roster, but does that mean he should be the closer in Arlington?
The battle for the closer role is going to be the most interesting position battle to watch this spring. The Texas Rangers have struggled to find a consistent option at closer, but can Seung-hwan Oh fix that problem?
The 35-year-old Oh pitched 11 years in South Korea and Japan before joining the St. Louis Cardinals in 2016. Oh collected 357 saves in those 11 seasons before he signed with the Red Birds.
His first season in St Louis went fantastic. Oh went 6-3 with a 1.92 ERA in 76 games and 19 saves. He struck out 103 batters and finished sixth in the Rookie of the Year balloting. Oh finished the 2016 campaign with an impressive 2.8 WAR.
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The following season did not go as planned for Oh. He went 1-6 with a 4.10 ERA in 62 games and 20 saves. He pitched roughly 20 less innings than the 2016 season, and only struck out 54 batters in 2017.
However, Oh has 39 career saves in two seasons which is more than anyone on the current Rangers roster. He is the most experienced late inning reliever in the bullpen right now. Does that mean he begins the season as the closer?
Oh definitely has the most experience, but his struggles last season could come back to bite him again. The Rangers finished the last season with lefty Alex Claudio as closer. Although, the organization feels more comfortable with him as a setup pitcher.
The Rangers should give everyone a chance to close this spring. Oh has the most career saves, but guys like Keone Kela, Jake Diekman, and Matt Bush have better track records. No one should be guaranteed the role, because it must be earned this spring.