With Leclerc out, Rangers have no set closer

Hernández, Vólquez could get save opportunities for Texas

August 1st, 2020

The Rangers are bracing for a closer-by-committee approach now that right-hander José Leclerc is on the 45-day injured list with a torn muscle in the back of his right shoulder.

Manager Chris Woodward is not going to designate one pitcher as his closer, but he appears to be leaning toward right-handers and . One has talent, and the other has experience.

Hernández pitched in three of Texas' first five games, but he has only 12 big league appearances over the past two seasons. Woodward is intrigued by Hernández because he throws a 98-mph sinker, along with a potential swing-and-miss slider and changeup.

Vólquez has a 94-mph fastball with a plus changeup. He has made only 16 relief appearances in his career, as opposed to 273 starts, but Woodward believes in Vólquez's 15 years of experience.

Woodward also has right-handers Nick Goody and Ian Gibaut as potential late-inning candidates, along with left-hander Brett Martin.

“The one thing I told this group from day one is there are no roles,” Woodward said. “We don’t have the luxury of saying we are going to put you in a role. I trust guys with experience, you look at Edinson Vólquez. Jonathan Hernández with his stuff, kind of come to mind. Those two guys could maybe take on that role.”

Right-hander Jesse Chavez, who works in middle and setup relief, has eight saves in his 13-year career. That is the most of any active Rangers pitcher. The only other Texas reliever with a save is Goody, who closed out Wednesday’s win over the D-backs for the first of his career.

“I trust all those guys,” Woodward said. “If we do this right, we can get creative, and all our guys are on board, they are all excited about it,. They are going to pitch in situations they haven’t in the past, and we are going to learn a lot about our guys.”

Positive test for radio broadcaster
Rangers radio broadcaster Matt Hicks has tested positive for COVID-19 and is stepping away from the booth until he is cleared to return. Fellow radio broadcaster Eric Nadel tested negative, but he will not work the three-game series against the Giants. One other production member of the broadcast team has tested positive.

Jared Sandler will handle the play-by-play duties while Nadel is out. David Murphy is his partner for Friday, and Mark McLemore will take over as the No. 2 voice on Saturday and Sunday.

As with the other 29 clubs, the Rangers' television and radio broadcasters are not traveling. They will be doing their broadcasts remotely from Globe Life Field.

Big moment on hold for Heinemans
Rangers outfielder Scott Heineman greeted his brother, Tyler, a catcher for the Giants, from a distance during pregame batting practice on Friday. But neither were in their teams' respective lineups.

Scott Heineman, a right-handed hitter, did not start against San Francisco right-hander Logan Webb, but he could be in there Saturday against lefty Drew Smyly. Tyler Heineman, a switch-hitter, has been starting against right-handers, and righty Jordan Lyles pitches for the Rangers on Saturday.

If both play Saturday, it will be the first time the brothers have played in the same Major League game. They faced off a few times while coming up through the Minors.

“It is still cool to be on the same Major League field,” Scott said. “You never know, hopefully the next couple games of the series ... we both get in there.”

Scott Heineman broke into the Majors with the Rangers last season, playing 25 games, and made the team this year as a backup outfielder. Tyler played in five games for the Marlins last season, signed a Minor League deal with the Giants this past offseason and made the team after Buster Posey decided to not play this season.

Rangers beat
• Right-hander Ariel Jurado was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for first baseman Greg Bird. Jurado went 7-11 with a 5.81 ERA in 32 games for the Rangers last season and did not make their 30-man Opening Day roster.

• Woodward on seven-inning doubleheaders: “It doesn't feel like Major League Baseball to me. But I totally understand why they're doing that. I wouldn't recommend after this year doing it, but I think, for this year, it makes a ton of sense."

• Rangers starter Lance Lynn had two six-inning scoreless outings through the Rangers' first five games of the season. He is the first pitcher since 1900 to have two six-inning scoreless outings in his team’s first five games while striking out at least eight in each outing.