ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have four left-handed candidates for their bullpen going into Spring Training, and between them they have a total of 28 Major League appearances. Two have never pitched in the big leagues.That doesn't faze manager Chris Woodward."We have so many options ... somebody is going to obviously
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have four left-handed candidates for their bullpen going into Spring Training, and between them they have a total of 28 Major League appearances. Two have never pitched in the big leagues.
That doesn't faze manager Chris Woodward.
"We have so many options ... somebody is going to obviously wow us at some point," Woodward said.
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That is why Texas has steered clear of left-handed relievers on the free-agent market, even though that list includes former Ranger Jake Diekman. The Rangers believe the sheer talent of Jeffrey Springs, C.D. Pelham, Kyle Bird and Brady Feigl is more compelling than their lack of big-league experience.
"We want to give those guys a real opportunity," general manager Jon Daniels said. "We think they are as talented or more so than maybe some of the guys that are still on the market. We want to take a real look at them. If we want to audible later, there may be some options for us to do that later in the spring."
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Spring Training is a time when fans search for that "must-see" pitcher, the next big thing on the horizon. The customary hope is that it will be a starting pitcher. But for the Rangers this spring, the most intriguing group of pitchers may be their left-handed relievers, who have put up impressive numbers in the Minor Leagues and deserve a real shot at making the club.
"Obviously, I am very intrigued," Woodward said. "I feel we have a lot of options. I have seen these guys on video and I have talked to a lot of them. I had a chance to meet them face to face in the offseason. Seeing them compete is another thing -- watch their development and growth and see how quickly they can make that leap to the big leagues. It is something you have to see firsthand, and some of their stuff is off the charts. We'll have to see how it plays out against big-league hitters in Spring Training and gauge where they are at."
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The Rangers had a brief look at Springs and Pelham at the end of last season.
Springs, 26, made 18 appearances for Texas and had a 3.38 ERA over 32 innings, walking 14 and striking out 31. He has a 92-94-mph fastball with a plus changeup and average breaking stuff. The Rangers wanted to take a look at him because he averaged 12.1 strikeouts per nine innings over four Minor League seasons, including 15.6 this past season at Double-A Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock.
Pelham, 23, is a 6-foot-6 lefty who can bring his fastball at close to 100 mph. A 33rd-round Draft pick in 2015, Pelham averaged 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings in the Minor Leagues last season, but also 5 walks. The command needs to get better, but the power is there.
Feigl, 28, split last season between Frisco and Round Rock, combining for a 1.84 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP. He is not as overpowering as the others, but he has a plus curveball with a fastball he uses well up in the zone.
Bird, 25, was one of four players acquired by the Rangers in the three-way trade with the Rays and Athletics in which Texas gave up infielder Jurickson Profar. Bird came from the Rays after an impressive 27-game stretch with Triple-A Durham. In 55 2/3 innings for the Bulls, he had a 2.10 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings. He also made 18 appearances for Obregon in the Mexican League this winter with a 2.00 ERA, a 0.89 WHIP and 9.5 strikeouts per nine innings.
"All those guys have the ability to get out lefties and righties," Daniels said. "They are not matchup guys. With our roster, we are not looking at a one-out lefty guy at this point. We are looking for guys who can get multiple outs, and those guys have good stuff and worked hard. We are looking for them to go out and compete."
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.