Mistake to Shea Langeliers was not José Leclerc's biggest blunder in Rangers' loss

The game-winning home run is not the at-bat that will haunt José Leclerc.
Texas Rangers relief pitcher Jose Leclerc (25) throws
Texas Rangers relief pitcher Jose Leclerc (25) throws / Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

No matter what Texas Rangers manager Bruce Bochy says, the bullpen is a problem. After the Rangers' 4-3 loss to the Oakland Athletics, Bochy said that it's too early to be concerned about the bullpen. That seems like an odd statement, given that your closer has been wildly unsuccessful so far this season.

José Leclerc let another game slip away on Tuesday night, as the Rangers entered the top of the ninth inning holding a one-run lead over the A's. But Shea Langeliers, who had a phenomenal game by the way, took matters into his own hands with a two-run blast.

Langeliers' ninth-inning homer was his third of the game. He took Rangers' starter Nathan Eovaldi deep in the second inning and did the same to David Robertson in the seventh. Apparently Leclerc didn't get the memo to pitch around Oakland's hottest hitter. But it wasn't the mistake by Leclerc that was the most costly error on the night; it was the walk he issued before facing Langeliers.

Shea Langeliers' game-winning HR was not José Leclerc's biggest blunder in Rangers' loss

Leclerc came on for Kirby Yates in the top of the ninth inning with the Rangers leading 3-2. Leclerc quickly dispatched of J.D. Davis on four pitches. The next batter, however, turned out to be Leclerc's biggest nemesis on the night.

A's left fielder Seth Brown stepped into the batters' box having gone 5-for-35 to begin the season. The 31-year-old has hit just .224 for his career with a .293 on-base percentage and had struck out in 35% of his previous 26 at-bats. This is not Adolis Garcia we're talking about here.

So what does Leclerc do? The Rangers reliever promptly walks Brown on five pitches. Not one of the wayward pitches was remotely close to the strike zone, and the one pitch that was, Brown fouled off. Brown represented Leclerc's sixth walk of the season. Langeliers then stepped up and rocketed the first pitch he saw over the wall in left-center field.

Rangers manager Bruce Bochy may need to make a change at closer

So while Bochy and others just want to tip their cap to Langeliers for his performance, had Leclerc done his job and not walked Brown in the previous AB, the A's catcher would've sent the game into extra innings rather than winning it with a two-run bomb.

Bochy has to stop running cover for Leclerc. This is a pitcher that either doesn't have his best stuff, or isn't suited for the role he currently has. Either way, Bochy's comments are bound to fall flat with a fanbase that has seen Leclerc struggle late last year during the World Series run and into the first two weeks of the 2024 season.

The Rangers' skipper doesn't have to throw his closer under the bus, but walks have been a problem for Leclerc this season. The right-hander owned a 12% walk rate in 2023 and has walked 13.8% of the opposing batters he's faced over the years, so this is nothing new. It may be time for Bochy to make a change in the backend of the bullpen.

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