The 2022 Texas Rangers roster as of now: Closing Pitchers
Certainties: Joe Barlow
Barlow quickly became the Rangers’ shutdown closer in June after a handful of roster shufflings, and for the most part, was more than dependable. He’s got excellent spin rate and velocity, and he strikes out batters at a high rate (8.4 SO9) for a reliever. The risk with Joe is that he, like many others, was a victim of the 2020 Minor League season being canceled. He managed to bounce back from it, surge through the minors, and produce a dependable 1.55 ERA out of the pen in the pros in 2021, but he hasn’t been able to really sink his feet in yet. If Barlow can continue to perform as advertised, and maybe even get better considering he’s only 26, he could be a very reliable closing option well into the team’s championship contention window.
Dark Horse: Jose Leclerc
The closing job is Barlow’s to lose at this point, but I think the return of Leclerc in 2022, health willing, is something a lot of Rangers fans have lost sight of over the last few months. His earliest return to regular pitching will probably be June or July sometime, and depending on the state of the bullpen, he might be sent to the minors to rehab and stay there for the remainder of the season to get back into the swing of things (pun intended). Here’s the thing: Leclerc has pitched exactly two innings since the end of the 2019 season. If he returns at all, it probably won’t be with the same velocity and force he had a few years ago. He’s freshly 28, which is promising for a possible return, but we still haven’t been given a proper update on his future, so only time will tell.