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...
Cole Hamels -- B-
I could be talked into believing I’ve given Cole too high of a grade. A 4.20 ERA with 69 earned runs counts for something, though, right?
He had a 2.9 bWAR in 148 innings, spending some time on the shelf. The command and the changeup has tended to come and go, often times within the same game...when the command and change is working, he’s at least a #2 starter. When its not, well, he’s a back-end guy.
Hamels is at $23.5 million for 2018, though the Phillies are paying some undetermined portion of that, and Texas is no doubt hoping he bounces back from an inconsistent year. There’s no chance he hits his vesting option for 2019, though at $20 million with a $6 million buyout, he’d have to be awfully disappointing in 2018 for that not to be picked up.
At 34 next season, Hamels may simply be in his decline phase, and the next two years of Hamels may be a #3/#4 caliber starter who helps round out a rotation, but isn’t someone who is a legitimate TORP anymore. Let’s cross our fingers and hope that’s not the case.
Mike Hauschild -- F
An odd Rule 5 pick of the Rangers from the Astros organization this past offseason, the 27 year old Hauschild had a nice season at AAA Fresno in 2016 as a strike thrower with decent, but not great, peripherals. The Rangers apparently saw something they liked, though, and he was snagged and sat on the 40 man roster all offseason, touted as a possible rotation option.
Hauschild got good reviews early in the spring, and ended up making the Opening Day roster as a long man. Four outings — all of which involved runs scoring -- and an 11.25 ERA with 5 home runs allowed in 8 innings was sufficient for the Rangers to determine that he wasn’t someone they could hang on to, and he was returned to the Astros before April was up.
Hauschild is just the latest in the list of random Rule 5 pitchers who the Rangers look at in April -- remember Mason Tobin? Logan Verrett? Seth Rosin? — before cutting them loose. I’m sure there will be another one this spring, and he will be a memory by May 1.
Jeremy Jeffress — F
Part of the justification for the huge haul the Rangers parted with to land Jonathan Lucroy -- outfielders Lewis Brinson and Ryan Cordell and pitcher Luis Ortiz — was that the Rangers weren’t just getting Lucroy; they were also getting a terrific reliever with closing experience in Jeremy Jeffress.
Jeffress was, in his time with Texas, even worse than Lucroy. He landed in rehab after a DUI last August, and was part of the problem in the 2017 bullpen, putting up a 5.31 ERA in 40.2 IP. Texas finally gave up on him at the end of July and shipped him back to Milwaukee. There were some indications that he wasn’t comfortable in Texas like he was in Milwaukee, and he has a career 2.56 ERA with the Brewers, while his ERA is about 2 runs higher with every other time, so there would seem to be some truth to that.
In any case, Jeffress was bad for the Rangers this year, and his being bad was particularly problematic given that how many other bad performances there were in the pen. If Jake Diekman had been healthy and Sam Dyson had pitched well and others had done okay, Jeffress being a disappointment wouldn’t have been as big an issue. But alas...