Thursday newsletter time: Rangers have a Jose Leclerc problem
(AP photo/LM Otero)
Josh Jung, hours after being selected as the American League Rookie of the Month for April, connected for two home runs Wednesday afternoon.
The second put the Rangers in a position to sweep two games from the Diamondbacks. The Rangers just needed from help from the reliever who entered the season as their first option at closer.
Jose Leclerc, though, helped out Arizona.
The Diamondbacks rallied against Josh Sborz and Leclerc in a five-run seventh inning en route to a 12-7 win.
Leclerc entered with no outs, they tying run in and runners at first and second, not an ideal situation. But he walked the first two batters he faced to force in one run, also not an ideal situation, then allowed a sacrifice fly and a two-run single before getting the hook.
He has had three straight dicey outings, dating to a three-walk meltdown last week at Cincinnati. Leclerc can be very good, but no pitcher can be as good as he wants to be if he’s walking batters.
The Rangers aren’t going to part ways with Leclerc, who is owed $6 million this season. They don’t want to part way with the out-of-options Sborz, who retired the first four batters he faced and has been better since coming off the injured list.
Ian Kennedy has been a little too hittable.
Faith in that trio, at least right now, is waning. Yerry Rodriguez, called up Saturday when Jacob deGrom went on the injured list, still must earn the Rangers’ faith.
The Rangers are off today before opening a 10-game West Coast road trip Friday at Anaheim. They will play 13 straight games before they have a day off.
Half of their bullpen could be deemed as unreliable. The Rangers might be buying some minor-league pitchers airline tickets to Anaheim, Seattle or Oakland over the next 10 games.
The Rangers have their share of injuries, though it appears shortstop Corey Seager (hamstring) and catcher Mitch Garver (knee) are getting closer to returning from the IL. DeGrom hopes to serve the minimum 15 days with elbow inflammation.
The Astros are trending the other way on the injury front.
They were dealt a lousy break when second baseman Jose Altuve was hit by a pitch in the World Baseball Classic and left Team Venezuela with a broken thumb. He’s taking grounders again but still has not swung a bat.
Their biggest problem is on the mound.
Right-handers Jose Urquidy (shoulder) and Luis Garcia (elbow) hit the injured list the past few days. Urquidy is going to be shut down for two weeks, but hopes to return relatively quickly. Garcia is seeking a second opinion on his elbow, though the Astros haven’t said what the first opinion was.
That doesn’t sound good.
Houston remains without Lance McCullers Jr., who hurt his elbow in spring training and won’t be back until at least next month.
Designated hitter Michael Brantley and outfielder Chas McCormick are also sidelined, though both are on rehab assignments and should be back soon.
The Astros, the reigning world champs, are 16-15 and in third place in the AL West behind the Rangers and Angels.
Good guy retires
Former Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos decided to retire, announcing his intentions Wednesday over social media.
Thank you 🙏⚾️ pic.twitter.com/hP6v2nX9Bh
— Robinson Chirinos (@robinson28ch) May 3, 2023
He was a free agent, having last played last season for Baltimore. He spent the majority of his 11-year career with the Rangers, covering seven seasons. He went to playoffs with them in 2015 and 2016, and went to the World Series in 2019 with the Astros.
Chirinos wasn’t an All-Star, but he was a good player at thin position. His character is off the charts, though, and that endeared him to the Rangers as much as his playing ability.
He’s just a good human being.
Because of that, Chirinos still has many friends in the organization, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him around the going forward.
He’s the kind of person a team would want their young players to be around, a player who overcame a nasty concussion and a position change and didn’t make his MLB debut until he was 27.
Chirinos had the faith, in God and himself, to persevere.
Life of the party. The dog, not the dudes in the Speedos. Enjoy.
Good dog having a great time pic.twitter.com/7dzYpzu96H
— Puppies 🐶 (@PuppiesIover) May 1, 2023
Jeff Wilson, email@example.com
Truth be told, I’ve never been a Leclerc fan. Even in ’18/’19 time frame when he was at his best. I get that feeling in my gut that this isn’t going to work out great for us. It’s gotta be the high walk rate that gets me. Thankfully I’m just some guy and I don’t have someone watching my every move at my job, judging ever move I make. We’re also in different tax brackets. $6m and I’ll take all the judgement you can throw at me.
Since it’s fresh, I hope Dominic Leone doesn’t turn out to haunt them.