More Speas, please.

Alex Speas walks off the field after his first major league strikeout that resulted in a double play.

With apologies to John Lennon:

All that we’re saying is give Speas a chance.

All that we’re saying is give Speas a chance.

Alex Speas has, to quote another old rocker, had a long strange trip to the major leagues. One well worth it, for sure.

He was the Rangers second-round pick in the 2016 draft (after Cole Ragans). He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2018, got into only two Rookie League games in 2019 because of it, sat out all of 2020 because of COVID, and put up an 11.15 ERA in both Frisco and the Rookie League in 2021.

Then walked away from baseball.

He said his passion for the game was gone. The 6-foot, 3-inch right-hander moved to the Carolinas and became a youth baseball coach.

Then, something happened.

He saw the fun those nine-year-olds had playing a game he used to love, and the passion was sparked again. “I missed the game a lot,” the 25-year-old Speas explained, “but I’m to the point now where I understand that mental health is stronger than anything, and mental health helps you to compete out here on the field each and every day.”

He was welcomed back into the Rangers system in 2023, assigned to Double-A Frisco, where in twenty-three games out of the pen he put up an unreal 0.64 ERA. That led to a promotion to Triple-A Round Rock, where in five games he put up a 2.35 ERA. His combined minor league numbers were pretty impressive: 59 strikeouts in 36 innings, with a 1.00 ERA.

That was just the opposite of the production the Rangers were getting with their bullpen. So, on Wednesday, Speas was called up to the major leagues. Bruce Bochy wasted no time throwing him into the fire.

His debut couldn’t have been more impressive. And nerve-wracking.

With the Rangers hanging onto a thin 1-0 lead, after a Leody Taveras solo homer in the third, Brock Burke, who had taken over for an injured Jon Gray who got drilled in the leg by a line drive in the fifth, started the seventh inning giving up a leadoff single, then striking out the next Rays batter. Bochy decided to see what his new bullpen arm could do.

He called on Alex Speas, who just last year was coaching youth baseball and bringing in relievers himself. The Rays countered by pinch hitting with their young star shortstop Wander Franco. Speas didn’t blink. In six pitches, he was out of the inning. Really, it just took one pitch. He stuck out Franco. And the runner, attempting to steal second on strike three, was gunned down by Jonah Heim. Strike-out, throw-out double play.

Speas was out of the inning.

The Rangers scored a huge insurance run in the bottom of the seventh so Bochy kept Speas in for the top of the eighth. He struck out two of the three batters he faced in the eighth. And the Rangers scored three more run.

All in, Speas struck out three of four hitters in his major league debut. More than that, at least for one day, he gave the Rangers another arm out of a threadbare bullpen that is slowly starting to get its legs and take shape.

It was an impressive debut by a guy who didn’t think this day would come two years ago when he walked away from baseball.

The Rangers are sure glad he walked back.