Who will be the other left-hander in the Texas Rangers bullpen when the season begins? They like Jeffrey Springs, but at least one other lefty is needed.
The Texas Rangers don’t have a ton to figure out this spring. Their offense/defense is nearly set and they have a focused pool of starting pitching candidates to choose from. The only facet of the roster that is truly blurry is the bullpen.
Texas’ safe bets seem to be Jose Leclerc, Jesse Chavez, Chris Martin and Shawn Kelley. All four throw right-handed. Jeffrey Springs is a left-hander who is certainly deserving of a roster spot after an impressive 2018 stint. He’ll have to stay on par this spring, but I feel very comfortable predicting his presence in the Ranger bullpen on March 28th.
The Rangers will need more than one lefty in the pen, however. That’s where three career minor leaguers come into play.
Kyle Bird (age 25), CD Pelham (23), and Brady Feigl (28) are three left-handers on the cusp of a big league debut. There is a very good chance one of the three is a member of the Texas Rangers opening day roster. But which one will it be?
Bird was a big piece in the Jurickson Profar trade this winter. He has 307 minor league innings under his belt. Amidst a rebuild, the Rangers liked the idea of acquiring a seasoned minor league arm that was nearly ready for the big leagues.
The 6’2”, 175 LB pitcher tossed 75.1 innings between Double-A and Triple-A last season. He finished the year with a 2.39 ERA and held opponents to a .198 batting average. Bird also averaged over a strikeout per inning and posted a very nice 1.15 WHIP.
Next up, 6’6”, 235 LB CD Pelham made his major league debut with the Rangers last September. He surely suffered some growing pains, as he accumulated a 7.04 ERA over 10 appearances. It was an opportunity for Pelham to get his feet wet in the majors with expanded rosters, though last year’s call-up does not mean he’ll break camp with the team this spring.
Pelham currently ranks as Texas’ #17 prospect. Double-A Frisco is the highest level he’s reached in the minors, and he pitched just 19 innings there a season ago. He has plenty of talent, as evidenced by his occasional triple-digit fastball, however, it’s likely the Rangers send him to Triple-A out of camp to allow further development.
Lastly, Brady Feigl was acquired by the Rangers in 2016 when they shipped Luke Jackson to the Atlanta Braves. Feigl has 190 minor league innings to his name. He threw 42.1 innings for Round Rock in 2018 and posted a 2.13 ERA. All 31 of his appearances were out of the bullpen.
Feigl is a contact pitcher. He struck out just 25 hitters with Round Rock, but walked only 11. His fastball is not overpowering, though his curveball is known to be a formidable weapon.
Who wins out?
Barring a jaw-dropping spring from Pelham, he’ll head to the minors. He’s the youngest and the greenest of the three. From there, it’ll be a dead heat between Bird and Feigl.
The Texas Rangers will evaluate each for a specific role they’re looking to fill. They’ll see what kind of workload each can handle, how each fares against left-handed bats and how each fares against right-handed bats.
Command is the most vital quality. The lefty who can throw strikes, spot pitches and give his defense a chance will likely earn the roster spot. That’s often what a major league nod boils down to.
Of course, there’s always the possibility the Rangers forgo each one of these guys. But I just don’t see that happening. Bird and Feigl are a solid spring away from the majors and Texas must have more than one left-hander in their bullpen at the season’s start.
Prediction: Kyle Bird makes the opening day roster