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...
Jake Diekman — B
When talking about the mess that was the Rangers’ bullpen early on in the year, one of the things that I think gets overlooked is the absence of Jake Diekman. Diekman, who has battled ulceritive colitis his entire career, missed most of the year due to having to undergo through surgeries to address his condition. He looked to make the best of it, raising money and awareness through his “Gut It Out” movement, and fought to get back on the field while the Rangers were still in a race. His absence was felt, however, particularly in the early part of the season when the Rangers were desperate for anyone in the pen who could get a few outs.
Diekman is entering the final year of his contract, though it wouldn’t shock me if he and the Rangers ended up agreeing to a deal that would make him a Ranger past 2018. Diekman put up a 2.53 ERA in 10.2 IP in 11 outings after his return, and Jon Daniels mentioned that the pen missed his presence and leadership while he was out. Diekman, who turns 31 in January, has established himself here, and it would be good to know he’s going to be here beyond the coming season.
Sam Dyson — F
Let’s not talk about Sam Dyson, okay?
Paolo Espino — C
Who? Paolo Espino, purchased by the Rangers from the Brewers in late August, is one of those names that we will vaguely remember a couple of years from now, unable to really recall anything about him or any games where he pitched, other than that he was here for a brief period of time.
Called up after rosters expanded, Espino’s first game as a Ranger was on September 2, when he came into the game in the sixth inning with two outs, asked to protect a one run lead. He retired the lone batter he faced, then didn’t pitch again for ten days. His next four appearances were in blowout losses, before he finally got to pitch in a win on the next to last day of the season.
Pitching just 6.1 IP in 6 outings, Espino struck out 7, walked 2, gave up 2 home runs, and allowed 4 runs in all. I’m not sure what prompted the Rangers to acquire Espino from Milwaukee, or what they were looking at in evaluating him once he arrived, but whatever it was, they apparently saw enough, as he was waived once the season was over.