Jose Leclerc made his first appearance in his new relief role for the Texas Rangers. How did things go for the youngster against Toronto?
Texas Rangers young flamethrower Jose Leclerc made his first appearance since blowing his second save of the season back on April 30th against the Pirates. Manager Chris Woodward opted to take Leclerc out of the closer role and instead threw him in the 7th inning against the Blue Jays.
How’d It Go?
Leclerc’s first appearance back on the mound went about as well as it could have and was arguably one of his best outings of the season. Leclerc threw the 7th inning of the 8-5 win over the Blue Jays and didn’t allow a baserunner while striking out 2 batters.
Not only was he fairly efficient, but he also looked more comfortable than he has in weeks. Leclerc has struggled mightily to locate his fastball which is the whole crux of his pitching arsenal. While he has a lively fastball, his ability to locate allows him to set up hitters late in at-bats making him such an effective closer. Once he lost that command and confidence, he quickly saw his ability to close out games disappear.
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Fastball location was something Leclerc struggled with in his time in the minors. He found his command very quickly last season leading to his emergence and prompting his designation as the closer of the future. The Rangers even opted to sign Leclerc to a long-term deal that has him in Arlington through 2023.
Expectations are still for Leclerc to be the closer of the future for the Rangers though. He likely will continue in this 7th inning role working his way back up to high-leverage situations. In the meantime, Shawn Kelley will be able to hold down the 9th inning for the club. Hopefully, Leclerc can find his way once again and return to being one of the top shutdown closers in the game.