It’s decision time for the Texas Rangers and closer Jose Leclerc
By Travis Koch
It may be decision time for the Texas Rangers regarding closer Jose Leclerc. The sympathy is nice, but he’s costing his team important early season wins.
Jose Leclerc was largely considered the Texas Rangers’ best player entering the 2019 campaign. They have some very good players, but it’s tough to argue against a guy who a posted a 1.56 ERA and held opponents to a .126 batting average a season ago. For whatever reason, or reasons, Leclerc is not the same so far this year.
He entered last night’s game with a 6.52 ERA. After blowing a 3-0 lead in the 9th by giving up 3 runs, his ERA will obviously go up.
His struggles seemed like outliers to begin; however, continued subpar performances have escalated concerns. It may be time for a change.
Some folks are suggesting the Rangers send Leclerc to Triple-A to rediscover his form. I’d consider such a move overblown and unnecessary. Sure he’s having issues, but removing him from the 25-man roster won’t help any confidence he’s holding onto. He simply needs one or two solid outings against big league hitters to trigger his game.
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What the Texas Rangers can, and maybe should do is remove him as closer for the time being. His team needs to win close games first and foremost. Right now, Leclerc is jeopardizing close games — the opposite of what he’s supposed to be doing. With the Rangers off to a nice start and competing in the AL West, they don’t need to be dragged down by something that can be avoided.
So, give Shawn Kelly or Chris Martin a few 9th innings and see how things go. Meanwhile, call Leclerc’s name for a few stress-free situations to help him regain his confidence. If he starts dominating again, revisit him as closer.
Something tells me Leclerc will be the club’s closer at the time the season comes to an end. There’s also a good chance Chris Woodward ignores all the outcries and keeps him as closer. It’s hard to figure the 25-year-old continuing on such a rough path for too much longer.
I do have one reservation. All of Rangers’ nation was quick to proclaim Jose Leclerc an elite closer. The front office did the same, as indicated by the four-year contract extension offered to him this past offseason.
The thing is, Leclerc has had only one really good major league season. He’s only been in the majors for three years, so it’s tough to say he’s truly established himself.
What if last season was a fluke? What if hitters have figured out the famed slombia (if that’s even how it’s spelled)? I hate to ask such questions, but the man has brought it on himself. Many Texas Rangers fans are beginning to ask those questions I would assume.