There seems to be a storm brewing about Odor and Leclerc. Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook or comment sections, the buzz is about Odor’s imminent return and Leclerc’s failures.
Apparently, there is a huge faction of Ranger fans ready to continue on this World Series run, with Danny Santana at second and anyone else at closer. So that begs the question, “Do the Rangers have an Odor and Leclerc problem?”
The short answer? No! The Rangers are not even a month into the season. Yet people are convinced that Odor and Leclerc are the only things standing between this team and a ring. Lest we forget, most of these same Ranger fans thought this team would already be out of contention. Was it not these same fans who wanted Jon Daniels head on top of a stake being paraded around town?
Roughned Odor has once again started the season on a bit of a slump. If that wasn’t trouble enough, he also suffered some knee discomfort that moved him to the IL. For all the Odor bashers, Santana is the answer to a prayer. You know, the same guy who signed a minor league deal with an invite to major league spring training (After being released by Atlanta). But lets not talk about that. Oh……. and he has a total of 14 career major league HR’s along with hitting .202 and .179 in his last two seasons.
Don’t get me wrong. He has been great in Odor’s absence. He has also probably played his way into a role on this team when Odor returns. But Danny Santana is not the everyday answer for a rebuilding team. Once Odor returns I imagine Patrick Wisdom will be returned Nashville. Santana has probably played his way into utility role on the team.
Leclerc is a different animal. Jose Leclerc is one of the best young bullpen arms in baseball. Once a minor league starter, there has never been any doubt that he has a great arm. The ability to harness this arm was always up for debate. In 2015 Leclerc was a starter for AA Frisco.
Talking with another writer who covered those Roughriders, he was struggling with pitch location while being told to slow down his approach. This apparently lead to some long drawn out games that were painful to watch. After Leclerc converted to the bullpen he found his calling. In 2016 he made his major league debut and had a 1.80 ERA in 15 innings pitched. He spent 2017 and 2018 in Arlington. His break out was 2018. The cut changeup along with a fastball running up to an average of 96 or 97 mph, earned him the closer role after Kela was traded.
It also gave the Rangers the confidence to extend him to four years $14.75 million dollars. He has struggled a bit over the last two weeks. His fastball is averaging 98 mph which is higher than the beginning of last year. But his control is sporadic. What’s the solution? You would think the Rangers need to get him back out there. The pressure of a new contract and inheriting the closer’s job, has probably had an effect.
If he continues to struggle then reduce his role and work him through it. You cannot give up on a guy who has that sort of ability.
It is understandable to over think the hot start the Rangers are on and want solutions to glaring issues. But Leclerc and Odor are NOT what will hold this team back. Maybe they need a starting pitcher besides Minor and Lynn, who can go beyond 5 innings. Maybe they need a bullpen that can come in and protect a lead. Maybe Joey Gallo will start bunting or hitting to the other…………. never mind. That’s an entirely different issue.
How about we all just take a collective breath………… there……….. feel better? Let’s just enjoy this and wait until it is obvious what this team needs to do. It’s only April people!!!
Featured Image: Ashley Landis