The next ten games the Rangers play are on the road. And against division foes. Three against the Angels. Three against the Mariners. Four against the Athletics.
It’s these games against division rivals that make a difference in winning a playoff spot.
They go into this long road trip knowing that they don’t have their number one starting pitcher, their starting shortstop, or their DH/catcher.
But they also know that manager Bruce Bochy has announced Will Smith is the closer. He experimented with Jonathan Hernandez and Jose Leclerc. They failed.
The bullpen is the team’s biggest weakness. Yes, they have blown a few saves the last ten games. But Bochy needed to figure out what he had. While every man, woman, and child in Rangers Nation cringed every time he brought Jose Leclerc into a game, the reality is he had to see what Leclerc has left in the tank.
The answer is, not much right now.
There are relievers who are 10/10 guys and there are relievers who are go-to guys. The 10-10 guys are pitchers you bring in only when trailing by ten runs or up by ten runs. Mop up guys. Innings eaters. If Leclerc stays on the major league roster, that seems to be his role now.
But the rest of the bullpen is still wobbly. It’s going to need to step up. The Rangers have a tough west coast road trip ahead of them. If they go 5-5 that would be considered a success.
If the bullpen doesn’t implode, they should do that.