Jake Diekman, the Texas Rangers’ lefthanded reliever who has been a key weapon in the bullpen since coming to Texas from Philadelphia as part of the Cole Hamels trade, will miss the first half of the 2017 season, the team has announced.
Diekman will be undergoing surgery on January 25, 2017, to address his ulcerative colitis, an issue that he’s dealt with for some time.
The absence of Diekman is a blow to the Rangers’ bullpen, and its now an open question whether the Rangers will go with two lefthanded relievers, or just go with one, while he’s out. Alex Claudio pitched well out of the bullpen in 2017, and would appear to have an inside track for a bullpen job. Andrew Faulkner and Dario Alvarez would seem to be the leading candidates for a second lefty role.
As things stand, the Rangers have a lot of righthanded options, and could conceivably go with just one lefthander. With Sam Dyson, Keone Kela, Jeremy Jeffress, Matt Bush and Tony Barnette all pretty much locks for the major league pen, barring injury, the Rangers could choose to use the seventh slot on Tanner Scheppers, or potentially a long reliever such as A.J. Griffin or Michael Hauschild, rather than carry a second lefty.