Projecting the Texas Rangers Opening Day Roster
7th,8th,9th inning guys: Jose Leclerc, Will Smith, Jonathan Hernandez
Middle Relievers: Joe Barlow, Brock Burke, Taylor Hearns, John King
Long Relief: Cole Ragans
The only issue with this list is the health of Jake Odorizzi. He would be in that long-relief role but as of today he is still not pitched in a game due to arm fatigue. It has been shocking to see how Cole Ragans has pitched. I believe in the absence of Odorizzi he has earned the long relief role. Will Smith signed late and will pitch late in games. He has been a closer throughout his career, but Leclerc will likely get first opportunities to close games. The last spot comes down to John King vs Josh Sborz. Right now John King probably gets the nod over Sborz.
The Josh Sborz Dilemna
The Rangers face a dilemna when it comes to Sborz. If they do not place him on the roster they likely will lose him. He is out of options and would have to be DFA'd to send down to Round Rock. Some team will likely claim him. Right now, there is no case for keeping him on the roster other than a fear of losing him. He was not good last season. He appeared in 19 games last season and allowed runs in eight of those 19 appearances and multiple runs in five of the eight appearances.
He does have good velocity, spin rate, and stuff. His velocity ranks in the 93rd percentile of pitchers and his fastball spin rate ranks in the 75th percentile. Both are considered great. Despite having that the results just have not lined up with his stuff. His control is very inconsistent. Mike Maddux has been working with him on that, but it has yet to show results in-game action. In his last two spring appearances, he has pitched one combined inning between the two and walked four batters, and gave up seven combined runs including one home run. The Rangers want to keep him, but they also want to win. Right now with how he is throwing it becomes one or the other. If he throws better between now and Opening Day the Rangers will keep him, but that is far from a certainty.