We continue our series where we issue grades and review the 2017 seasons for each Texas Rangers player, having started with the positional players and going in alphabetical order, and now moving on to the pitchers...
Preston Claiborne — D
Who? Preston Claiborne is a 29 year old righthander who was signed in February as a minor league free agent by the Rangers. He had been an okay bullpen arm for the Yankees in 2013 and 2014, got hurt, was claimed by the Marlins at the end of 2014, was released by the Marlins in the spring of 2016, spent 2016 on a minor league deal with the Giants, and came to the Rangers looking to get his career back on track.
One of the many random arms the Rangers cycled through in the pen looking for lightning in a bottle this season, Claiborne had a solid year at Round Rock, putting up a 1.89 ERA in 38 IP with 42 Ks against 15 walks and just 2 home runs. Called up to the majors, Claiborne appeared in just one game for Texas, a 15-9 loss at Cleveland on June 26, gave up 3 runs on 5 hits in 2 IP, and was shipped out soon thereafter. Just one more pitcher shuffled through during a time of desperation...
Alex Claudio — A+
Alex Claudio is kind of remarkable. There were people calling for him to be released early in 2016, saying that he was a waste of a 40 man roster spot. He ended up the 2017 season as the Rangers’ closer, their most reliable reliever, the guy Jeff Banister turned to time and again when he needed an inning-plus of solid relief work.
Did you know that Claudio has pitched in four different major league seasons, and has never had an ERA lower than 3? He put up a 2.92 ERA in 12 IP in 2014, a 2.87 ERA in 15 IP in 2015, a 2.79 ERA in 51 IP in 2016, and a 2.50 ERA in 82 IP in 2017. His ERA has gone down in each of his four seasons in the majors, while his innings pitched have gone up.
A 27th round pick in 2010 from Puerto Rico, a guy who, even when he was getting people out in the majors, people doubted and didn’t trust, has gone from long man and lefty specialist to trusted multi-inning fireman. Baseball is kind of crazy.
Yu Darvish -- B-
Heading into his last start for the Rangers this season, Yu Darvish had a 3.44 ERA, had been pitching well, and looked like a legit top of the rotation starting pitcher. Then, on July 26, at home against the Marlins, Yu was awful, allowing 10 runs, all earned in 3.2 IP, rocketing his ERA up to 4.01 on the season. He was, of course, traded days later, to the Dodgers.
I do find myself wondering if there would be all this talk about the Dodgers supposedly “fixing” Yu if he hadn’t made that start. His numbers with Los Angeles pretty well mirror his pre-July 26 numbers with the Rangers, and having that “4” at the start of his ERA with Texas makes it easy for the casual fan to dismiss him as having not been worthwhile while he was here.
In a season full of disappointments, though, the fact that Yu Darvish was traded, on the heels of a disaster outing, with his detractors hoo-hawing about how they knew he wasn’t really that good, is one of the biggest disappointments to me, personally.
Let’s hope Willie Calhoun ends up being really good...