The Texas Rangers Quest for a Reliable Closer: Exploring Trade Options Before the 2023 Deadline

May 10, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Texas Rangers relief pitcher Will Smith (51) and catcher
May 10, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Texas Rangers relief pitcher Will Smith (51) and catcher / Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports

As the 2023 trade deadline looms, the Texas Rangers need a reliable closer to strengthen their bullpen. While they made a wise decision to replace struggling closer Jose LeClerc with Will Smith earlier in the season, their overall relief pitching could have been better.

This article delves into why the Rangers should actively search for another closer on the market, considering their desperation for effective relief pitching.

Will Smith has been a bright spot in the Rangers' bullpen, effectively replacing Jose LeClerc due to his lackluster performance. Smith has demonstrated his ability to handle high-pressure situations, with impressive stats to back it up. His record stands at one win and two losses, with a batting average of .333 and an ERA of 2.74. In 23 appearances, he has recorded 11 saves, showcasing his ability to close out games efficiently. Smith's performance has been a saving grace for the Rangers, but they still require additional support in their relief corps.

Unfortunately, the Rangers' bullpen statistics reveal the glaring need for improvement. Let us examine some of the key metrics:

Total Relief Pitching
The Rangers' bullpen has collectively struggled, with a combined ERA of 4.49 over 192.1 innings pitched. This flat performance has contributed to blown leads, high-scoring games, and increased pressure on the team's offense.

Strikeout and Walk Rates
The bullpen's strikeout rate is 23.5%, while the walk rate is 9.0%. These numbers indicate a lack of dominance and control, leading to difficulties in closing out innings effectively.

Batting Average Against
Opposing batters are hitting .290 against the Rangers' relief pitchers, suggesting a vulnerability in their ability to retire hitters consistently.

Win Probability Added (WPA)
The bullpen's collective WPA of 0.89 is below average, indicating that they have not significantly impacted the team's chances of winning games.

Left-on-Base Percentage (LOB%)
The Rangers' bullpen has struggled to strand baserunners, with a LOB% of 66.3%. This inability to limit damage has resulted in costly runs being scored against the team.

To enhance their chances of success, the Rangers must prioritize finding a reliable closer through the trade market. A dependable closer brings stability to the late innings, closing out games and preserving leads. With the current bullpen's inconsistency and the pressure, it places on the offense, acquiring a proven closer is essential for the team's long-term success.

The Rangers' front office should explore trade options to address closing woes. They should target pitchers with a track record of success, strong command, and the ability to handle high-pressure situations. While the cost of acquiring a top-tier closer must be considered, the Rangers should prioritize their long-term goals and build a reliable bullpen for sustained success.

Scott Barlow and Aroldis Chapman are available.

As the Texas Rangers approach the 2023 trade deadline, it is evident that their bullpen requires immediate attention. While Will Smith has performed admirably as their current closer, the overall relief pitching has been subpar. The team's quest for a reliable closer is crucial to solidifying their bullpen, protecting leads, and improving their chances of competing in games.

By actively shopping for another closer in the trade market, the Rangers can strengthen their relief corps and enhance their ability to win crucial games down the stretch.