Texas Rangers: Grading the Team at the Halfway Point
By Kenneth Nash
Relief pitchers as you guessed are those pitchers who have pitched in relief more often than as a starter. The exception above was Ariel Jurado who pitched behind an opener lowering his start total.
Shawn Kelley: 29 G, 2.79 ERA, 28 SO, 1.138 WHIP, 1.5 WAR
Kelley was brought in a cheap 1-year deal this offseason to help bolster the back end of the bullpen. After some struggles from Jose Leclerc though, Kelley assumed the closer role and has held his own very nicely. With 11 saves, Kelley has been crucial in holding on to some late-inning leads and has been a bargain for the support he’s provided.
Jesse Chavez: 35 G, 2.79 ERA, 48 SO, 1.219 WHIP, 1.8 WAR
The Rangers brought back Chavez after dealing him prior to last year’s deadline. Chavez had a rocky start but has turned it around and become arguably the best reliever in the bullpen for Texas. He’s gotten a few spot starts and right now officially occupies the 5th starter role but he’s mostly a reliever and likely will revert back to that role in the near future.
Jose Leclerc: 14 G, 4.58 ERA, 55 SO, 1.217 WHIP, 0.6 WAR
Leclerc was handed a nice extension this offseason after emerging as a top closer in baseball in 2018. With expectations he would stay dominant this year, Leclerc had some pronounced early-season struggles that saw him moved out of the closer role. He’s made some strides in his last 7 games posting a 2.45 ERA and striking out 11 in 7.1 innings, but he’s still a long way from the Leclerc we saw last season.
Chris Martin: 31 G, 3.48 ERA, 32 SO, 1.065 WHIP, 1.0 WAR
Chris Martin has quietly been phenomenal for the Rangers bullpen this season. The veteran has been great in late-inning situations and even picked up a few saves along the way. In a perfect world Texas would go, Martin, Kelley, Leclerc for the 7th, 8th, 9th innings but right now Martin is acting as a bit of a setup man for Kelley and has really been excellent.
Shelby Miller: 19 G, 8.59 ERA, 30 SO, 1.977 WHIP, -1.1 WAR
Miller is a bit of a hybrid between starter and relief categories as he’s made 8 starts and had an opener ahead of him a couple of times. He’s been really poor as a starter and hasn’t improved very much as a reliever. If Texas can find more stable relief options, Miller may be following the same path that Drew Smyly did a couple of weeks ago.
Brett Martin: 22 G, 4.39 ERA, 20 SO, 1.200 WHIP, 0.4 WAR
The 24-year old lefty has emerged as a decent relief option for the Rangers this season and has carved out a bit of a role for himself. He’s not been dominant but has been serviceable which is sometimes what you need. He’s still young which is exciting for long-term development and could see his role increased as the year goes on.
Peter Fairbanks: 6 G, 4.70 ERA, 12 SO, 1.304 WHIP, 0.0 WAR
Fairbanks has had a meteoric rise through the Texas Rangers system this year. Starting off 2019 in High-A, Fairbanks climbed the ladder quickly and found himself pitching in Arlington in mid-June. It’s a small sample size and he’s shown the downside of being so “green” but he also has shown the ability to be nearly unhittable. He may not stick in the bigs for the rest of the year but he’s put forth a good showing thus far.
Kyle Dowdy: 13 G, 7.25 ERA, 17 SO, 1.970 WHIP, -0.4 WAR
Dowdy was another hopeful looking to carve out a role in the Texas Rangers bullpen this season. He’s struggled in his limited opportunities and currently is on the 7-day IL. It’s unlikely he knocks anybody in the ‘pen out of a role so a long-term fit this season is probably not going to happen.
Kyle Bird: 6 G, 6.75 ERA, 5 SO, 2.100 WHIP, -0.1 WAR
Bird was a piece acquired in the Jurickson Profar and provides a young reliever with time to grow. He’s struggled in his opportunities this season and is now in Triple-A with Nashville. He wasn’t quite ready for a full-time relief role for the Rangers but he should still get opportunities down the line with plenty of room to improve.