Texas Rangers: Rafael Montero can be an influential reliever next season

ARLINGTON, TX - AUGUST 4: Rafael Montero #48 of the Texas Rangers throws against the Detroit Tigers during the ninth inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on August 4, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. The Rangers won 9-4. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - AUGUST 4: Rafael Montero #48 of the Texas Rangers throws against the Detroit Tigers during the ninth inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on August 4, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. The Rangers won 9-4. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images) /
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Rafael Montero pitched good innings for the Texas Rangers in a small sample size last year. Can he turn that into an impact relief role next season?

In 2019, Rafael Montero pitched quality relief innings for the Texas Rangers flying a little under the radar. Now, with the departure of Emmanuel Clase in the trade that brought Corey Kluber to Arlington, Montero has a chance to grab onto a larger role and become an influential part of the Rangers bullpen.

Montero was originally an international free agent signing of the New York Mets in 2011 out of the Dominican Republic. He was dominant in his first full season in the Mets organization posting a 2.36 ERA in 122 innings between two minor league levels. That trend is fairly par for the course regarding Montero’s Minor League service time. He’s spent parts of eight seasons in the minors, predominantly with the Mets organization. He’s compiled over 600 innings of Minor League work to the tune of a 3.26 ERA and 1.174 WHIP.

His time in the Majors though have been a bit different. In his time with the Mets, Montero threw 192.1 innings across four seasons he posted a 5.38 ERA and a 1.705 WHIP. Not inspiring tons of confidence and missing all of 2018 due to Tommy John surgery, Montero elected free agency and signed a minor league deal with Texas last offseason. After some successful appearances in the minors, he got promoted to Texas and was fairly outstanding in his short amount of time with the big league club.

For the Rangers last season, Montero made 22 appearances throwing a total of 29 innings, all in relief. He had a 2.48 ERA and struck out 34, good for a 10.6 K/9 rate, one of the best strikeout rates of his career. His 3.83 FIP helps maintain that confidence and his 0.966 WHIP was by far the best mark of his career.

That’s a small sample size to rely on, but Texas still lacks true impact relievers on their roster. As mentioned above, they sent one to the Indians in the trade for Corey Kluber in Emmanuel Clase and Shawn Kelley who pitched good innings in the first half of the season is out of contract. They posted the 21st best bullpen ERA in baseball last season and that relief group is arguably worse than it was at the end of last season. They’ve added a couple of relievers via waivers, most notably Nick Goody, but there will be a chance for a Montero to grab hold of an important role. As it stands, the only set job seems to be Jose Leclerc as the club’s closer. Texas still needs late inning relievers and based on last year’s performance, perhaps Montero can fill that need.

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