Who takes the mound in the 7th inning?
Recent approach: It’s anybody’s game
Fix: Alex Claudio/Kevin Jepsen
Keep in mind, the proposed bullpen solutions are for games in which the Texas Rangers either have slight lead or a slight deficit. Such scenarios in the 7th inning should be split by Alex Claudio and Kevin Jepsen.
Last year, Claudio was trusted in practically any game situation. He spent time as the team’s closer; he even made a few starts. Though, in 2018, Claudio has been far from reliable.
He has a 7.50 ERA in 16 appearances this season. His opponent’s batting average is a scary .414 and he’s allowed a .433 OBP. What really stands out are his splits between right-handed hitters and left-handed hitters.
Batters from the right side of the plate are slashing .514/.538/.595 against Claudio, while lefties are slashing .238/.238/.429. Thus far, Claudio has been used more against right-handed hitters.
Jeff Banister should go back to using Claudio as a lefty specialist, at least for the time being. Give Alex Claudio the ball against lefties in the 7th inning. It’s okay if he has to face a righty in between, but most of his work needs to be done in favorable match-ups.
Kevin Jepsen has been better against right-handed batters, allowing just a .205 Batting Average Against. Jepsen is not quite what he was in his dominant days with the Los Angeles Angels (or perhaps Anaheim Angels at that point), but he’s shown he can still be effective.
A match-up-wise combination of Alex Claudio and Kevin Jepsen has great potential to maintain Rangers’ leads, or even deficits, in the 7th inning.