I write this on the day after an event that’s getting all too familiar for Texas Rangers fans; a bad performance from closer, Jose Leclerc.
Leclerc entered Tuesday’s game in the top of the ninth, hoping to notch his sixth save of the season, and end a streak of bad outings. Instead, he was greeted by a hard-hit line drive double by Pirates rookie outfielder, Bryan Reynolds. Cole Tucker then singled on a mishandled ball by Elvis Andrus, which got Reynolds to third. Leclerc then gave up his first run of the night, as Reynolds scored from third on an Adam Frazier single through the gap between first and second, making the score 3-1.
A glimmer of hope was then seen: Leclerc retired the dangerous outfield duo of Starling Marte, and Gregory Polanco via the strikeout. Then came in the Irving native, Josh Bell, who put a charge into the baseball, as it flew to the left field wall between Hunter Pence and Delino DeShields Jr., scoring both runners, and tying the game up at 3. A misjudgment by Bell on the base paths got Leclerc out of the inning, but the damage had already been done. Chavez ended up losing the game for the Rangers in the top of the eleventh, but that was much overshadowed by Leclerc’s shortcomings.
After the game, Rangers skipper, Chris Woodward, said that the team was “considering removing Leclerc from the closer role,” which is truly just stating the obvious of what needs to occur. This fall apart by Leclerc is extremely Sam Dyson-esque, and is losing the ball club games. Both pitchers were touted as top pitchers going into the season (Dyson 2017 and Leclerc 2019), both struggled to find their footing, and so far, both managers–Jeff Banister and Chris Woodward–were patient with the struggling closers, citing confidence as a main reason for not demoting the lack-luster pitchers. Hopefully, the Rangers do not make the same mistakes they did in previous years, because it is imperative that the team is able to close out close games like last night’s contest.