Texas Rangers: Can the team succeed with co-closers?

Before the addition of Aroldis Chapman, Will Smith was the team's sole closer. Now, with Chapman in the mix, can the two coexist?
Tampa Bay Rays v Texas Rangers
Tampa Bay Rays v Texas Rangers / Ron Jenkins/GettyImages

The all-star break was kind to the Texas Rangers. Since their return, the team has gone 6-0 and won series against the Cleveland Guardians and Tampa Bay Rays. In three of their past six games, Texas completed a comeback after being down by two runs or more. A key part of their winning streak can be attributed to pitchers Will Smith and Aroldis Chapman.

Since the acquisition of Chapman, Texas has been rolling. In six games pitched, the team has gone 4-2. Chapman has pitched six innings and recorded one save. His 10 strikeouts have been the difference, as he has allowed two hits and zero runs/homers.

Since taking over the closer duties back in May, Smith has been everything Texas needed. In 36 innings, he has retired 38 batters. On Tuesday he recorded his 17th save, while allowing zero runs in his one inning. It's possible he could come close to his record high 37 saves, back in 2021.

So with things rolling in Texas, what are the chances Chapman and Smith can coexist together?

It's highly probable that this works out for Texas. Both players pitch differently, and have a track record of success to back it up.

Stacked side to side, both Smith and Chapman have comparable resumes.

In his first year with the team, Smith has posted a 2.79 ERA, the second lowest behind starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi. As for Chapman, he posted a 2.45 ERA, which was the lowest ERA on the Kansas City Royals' roster.

Remember, it wasn't too long ago that both players were considered the top closers in baseball. In three seasons with the Atlanta braves, and one with the Houston Astros, Smith was near unstoppable. During his time with Atlanta, he recorded 42 saves and 146 strikeouts. His best year came in 2021 when he went 2-0 in the postseason, while posting six saves. He played a pivotal role during the Braves' title run, as he closed out game six against the Astros.

Likewise, Chapman has had a successful career. During the 2021 campaign, he posted a 3.36 ERA with the New York Yankees. Chapman had 30 saves and 97 strikeouts in under 56 innings pitched. That year he also made his last all-star appearance and recorded his 300th save.

So, what's different between now and then?

Bruce Bochy? New change of scenery? Being In Texas? Possibly all three.

At the beginning of the season, manager Bochy was not ready to name a closer for the Rangers. His options included Jose Leclerc and Jonathan Hernandez.

Leclerc was in prime position to become the team's closer. That all sailed though when he struggled to find consistent control with his pitches. Leclerc many times this season has given fans anxiety, especially if runners were in scoring position. Bochy named Will Smith closer back in May after Leclerc went through a rough stretch that cost the Rangers wins(Subscription required)

The main problem was Leclerc's inability to find the strike zone. During the month of May (which is when he had his duties taken away), he threw six innings allowing five walks, five errors, and eight hits. It seemed as though his command was just nowhere to be seen.

As for Hernandez, he flat-out struggled. It was his performance that helped Texas sweep their first series of the season, as he was able to hold the lead in the late innings against the Philadelphia Phillies. Eventually, though, things would go south. He struggled to maintain composure from the mound, as he posted a 6.65 ERA in 25 games pitched.

Now, with Chapman and Smith at the back of the bullpen, Texas seems to have found their answer. With Chapman, the team gained a pitcher who can dominate games with a mean fastball. Remember it was his 103mph fastball that stole the show last week. He throws a four-seam fastball that averages 99.6 MPH.

Smith too has his own skillset. During his career, he has thrown 9,829 pitches relying mostly on a slider. He also has a fastball that helps him get groundballs. Against the Rays it was his slider that helped him the most.

The rotation of having two closers, who have different skillsets, seems to work for Texas. Against Cleveland, the one-two punch of Chapman and Smith proved to be dominant as both players came in to seal the deal.

So to answer the question, I think is a concept that can definitely be successful down the stretch. Having two veteran closers who bring their own flair might be helpful for a team looking to make a postseason run.