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Here's who's vying for a Rangers bullpen spot

Texas has 25 arms in Spring Training who are looking for a relief role
@Sullivan_Ranger
February 22, 2020

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers have 38 pitchers in camp, and 25 are competing for a spot in the bullpen. Here is a quick look at the 25 candidates: The Front-runners José Leclerc, RHP: He will likely be the closer, but manager Chris Woodward seems intrigued with the idea of

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers have 38 pitchers in camp, and 25 are competing for a spot in the bullpen. Here is a quick look at the 25 candidates:

The Front-runners
José Leclerc, RHP: He will likely be the closer, but manager Chris Woodward seems intrigued with the idea of using him in tougher spots before the ninth inning and using someone else in the ninth.

Jesse Chavez, RHP: Chavez had his elbow cleaned out in September and is ready to do anything the Rangers ask. That includes starting if the Rangers find themselves in a pickle.

Joely Rodríguez, LHP: Possibly the most intriguing pitcher in camp. His career was on the fritz before going to Japan for two years and dominating. Last year, he struck out 77 batters and walked 14 in 60 1/3 innings for the Chunichi Dragons.

Rafael Montero, RHP: A tremendous scouting coup for the Rangers. He was outstanding last season (2.48 ERA, 0.97 WHIP) for 22 games. Now, he faces the challenge of a full season.

Nick Goody, RHP: Relievers can live an up-and-down existence: hot one year, down the next. Goody, claimed off waivers from the Indians, knows that well, but the Rangers see him trending upward.

Non-roster veterans
Cody Allen, RHP: The Rangers are begging for him to be the reliever he was with the Indians from 2013-17: 2.59 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 11.9 strikeouts per nine innings. He could be an option to close games given his experience.

Luis García, RHP: The hardest thrower in camp, but his career 4.64 walks per nine innings is fifth highest among MLB pitchers with at least 300 innings.

Juan Nicasio, RHP: Another power arm who has rode the ridiculous reliever roller coaster for eight years and six organizations.

Derek Law, RHP: He helped pitch the Giants into the postseason with a terrific rookie season in 2016 -- 2.13 ERA in 61 appearances -- but the 29-year-old hasn’t come close to matching that success since.

Jimmy Herget, RHP: Herget pitched in five games for the Reds last season after five strong Minor League seasons, which saw him accumulate a 2.80 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings. He throws his fastball around 93 mph and also features a slider. He could be another shrewd waiver claim for the Rangers.

Starter or reliever?
Jonathan Hernández, RHP: The Rangers love him as a starter but are not sure he can sustain his delivery/mechanics over five or six innings. His power arm may be better suited for long-relief stints out of the bullpen.

Luke Farrell, RHP: He might have ended up in the rotation last year if not for the fractured jaw suffered in Spring Training. Could fit as a middle-, long-relief guy.

Taylor Hearn, LHP: He throws 96 mph and his slider is much sharper. If Hearn dominates in Spring Training, it may be tough to keep him out of the bullpen.

The left-handers
Brett Martin: Some still think he can start, but the Rangers are eager to see a breakthrough season in the bullpen.

Yohander Méndez: Once the Rangers' top starting-pitching prospect, he is now being used as a reliever. He is already dealing with some shoulder inflammation.

Kyle Bird: He was on the Opening Day roster last season and optioned to the Minors five different times. Such can be the existence of a reliever with options.

Brian Flynn: He was terrific for the Royals in 2016 -- 2.60 ERA and 1.10 WHIP -- but has a 4.36 ERA and 1.68 WHIP since then.

James Jones: The former outfielder is close to making the complete transition to pitcher. This spring will provide a good progress report.

Young heat
Demarcus Evans, RHP: In the Minors, opponents are hitting .173 off him and he averages 13.7 strikeouts per nine innings. He is coming fast.

Joe Barlow, RHP: Barlow has compiled some gaudy numbers in the Minors, most notably a .178 opponents batting average and 12.9 strikeouts per nine innings. He throws harder than Evans, who has the better breaking pitch.

Lurking in the shadows
Taylor Guerrieri, RHP: Woodward said Guerrieri has one of the best curveballs in the game. Sometimes, it moves so much that he doesn’t get the call even though the pitch is actually in the zone.

Ian Gibaut, RHP: The Rangers love the 95 mph fastball, but he needs better control. Gibaut walked 10 in 14 1/3 big league innings last season.

Wei-Chieh Huang, RHP: Acquired for Jake Diekman in July 2018, Huang impressed the Rangers early last season before dealing with back issues. If he is healthy, he can pitch.

Everybody knows their name
Edinson Vólquez, RHP: Nineteen professional seasons, two Tommy John surgeries, over 2,000 innings pitched and no lack of confidence about making this team.

Tim Dillard, RHP: Dillard saved the Nashville pitching staff last year. He made 21 starts, 12 relief appearances and led the PCL with 153 innings and 20 hit batters.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.