Texas Rangers: Who will handle closing duties in 2021?

As a major league pitcher, being the closer is one of the toughest positions on the team. As the closer, the manager has complete faith in your pitching abilities to get the final three outs of the baseball game.

For the Texas Rangers, the closer position for the 2021 season is open and anyone’s to take, especially after manager Chris Woodward stated he won’t name one for now.

Here are some of the candidates I think could be the closer for the Rangers.

Jose Leclerc

Leclerc looks like he is the front runner as of now, last year he posted a 4.33 ERA and had 14 saves in the games that he played. Texas Rangers manager Chris Woodward hasn’t said if Leclerc will be the main closer for this season yet.

If Leclerc pitches well during spring training, Woodward will have no other option but to name him as the closer.

The Texas Rangers have plenty of options at closer in 2021.

Jonathan Hernandez

This is probably my dark horse that could walk into spring training and take the job. Last season, Hernandez had a breakout season in the bullpen by finishing the year with a 2.90 ERA and only allowing 10 earned Runs and 2 HRs in 27 games.

He is one guy I would keep an eye on during the exhibition games. I could see him filling in if the closer were to get injured during the season.

Joely Rodriguez

Rodriguez is on his second stint with the Texas Rangers and is another young pitcher to keep an eye on. Last season with the Rangers, he pitched in twelve appearances and finished with a 2.13 ERA and 17 strikeouts.

He would be a good closer and I can see him and Hernandez fighting for the closing job the most  out of all the relief pitchers aside from Leclerc.

Matt Bush

Coming off Tommy John Surgery in 2020, Bush hopes to make an immediate impact within the Rangers Bullpen. This could be his last chance to revive his major league career as he is 35 years old.

Bush has 11 career saves as a Ranger, so it would seem like the best place for him to get back on the roster is by being a closing pitcher.

Jesse Chavez (Wildcard)

Chavez is a wildcard for me because he is a free agent who the Rangers could turn to if they can’t find a backup reliever during camp. He has had two stints with the Rangers with the latest stint in 2020 where he played in 18 games and had a 6.88 ERA.

Forget for a moment that Chavez is up there in age at 36 and his ERA was terrible last season. I think he could give the Rangers another year to find someone who is down in the minor leagues or at the trade deadline to be the closer.

Texas Rangers closers: Final Thoughts

In my personal opinion, I think the main closer for the Rangers will be Leclerc. He seems to be the reliever that Chris Woodward was most comfortable with putting in the 9th to finish the game last season.

That doesn’t mean Leclerc will close out every game, of course.

Something to keep in mind for the Rangers is the current staff likes to do things that you usually don’t see in baseball. Don’t be surprised if they use multiple closers this year.

Usually, baseball teams use only one pitcher to come in and finish the game.

Depending on who the Rangers play and who is up to bat in the 9th inning, Woodward might decide that Bush or Hernandez would be the best option to be the closer for that game and give Leclerc a rest.

As we enter the time of exhibition games the one position I know Woodward and the pitching staff will be paying attention to is the closing pitcher. If the Rangers can’t find a consistent closer during camp, it could be a huge issue when the season starts.