We finish 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 wrapping up the pitchers...
Ricardo Rodriguez — C-
For a brief moment, the addition of Ricardo Rodriguez was an exciting thing for the Rangers. Called up in mid-August at a time of desperation, Rodriguez was inserted into a game at home against Detroit in his major league debut, asked to protect a four run lead, and retired the side in order, striking out two batters.
Yes!, we thought. A savior for the bullpen!
Rodriguez was fine for the rest of August, allowing runs in a couple of outings but generally pitching well, but gave up a total of 5 runs in back-to-back outings at the beginning of September, and after that he was largely an afterthought.
Its too bad, too, because Rodriguez is a neat story from 2017. Not on anyone’s map after missing most of 2015 and all of 2016 due to Tommy John surgery, Rodriguez started in Down East and dominated, allowing just 5 runs in 32 IP with 44 Ks and 9 walks. Promoted to Frisco, he continued to due work, and his 1.20 ERA there, with 17 Ks and just 1 walk in 15 IP, got him promoted in August.
Rodriguez, 25, was eligible to be a minor league free agent after the season had he not been added to the 40 man roster at some point, so he’s using a 40 man spot he would have occupied at this point anyway, and no options were used, so the August promotion doesn’t have any service time or other 40 man implications in the future. Like Nick Gardewine, Rodriguez is an intriguing arm who has had some success in the minors, and figures to be bouncing up and down between Round Rock and Arlington the next couple of years while trying to carve out a middle relief role in a major league pen.
Tyson Ross -- F
There was a remarkable amount of excitement generated by Rangers signing free agent pitcher Tyson Ross this past offseason to a one year, $6 million deal. Ross, someone the Rangers had had interest in for some time, was going to be in the rotation! And for just $6 million! Yes, he missed basically all of 2016, but if he’s healthy he’s a steal!
Of course, the whole reason Ross was a free agent was because the Padres, who knew him better than anyone, opted to non-tender him rather than go to arbitration with him. Ross has a delivery that had observers concerned about his ability to stay healthy even before 2016. And Ross was coming off both a shoulder problem and Thoracic Outlet Syndrome surgery. There were lots of red flags...and the fact that he was snagged for just $6 million was a red flag in and of itself.
Sometimes the medical reclamation projects work out. Signing Joakim Soria worked out for the Rangers a few years ago. Greg Holland paid off for the Rockies this year. More often, though, they fizzle, and all the excitement and “what ifs” from the offseason turn into frustration during the season.
Ross was a disaster for the Rangers, starting the year on the d.l., looking shaky in his rehab stints, getting activated in mid-June, having seven underwhelming starts, going back on the d.l., returning for three starts in August, and then being displaced from the rotation. Ross made a couple of relief appearances in September, allowing 6 runs on 3 IP, before the Rangers finally cut him loose.
The final numbers showed a 7.71 ERA in 49 IP, with 37 walks, 36 Ks, and 7 home runs allowed. Ross will probably sign a minor league deal somewhere this offseason, and look to show that 2017 was him getting back on the mound and trying to get the rust off, that he’s better than what he showed. And who knows, maybe he will be a solid starter again somewhere. But for the Rangers in 2017, he was a guy they were counting on for the rotation who was a bust.
Tanner Scheppers — D
Ah, Tanner Scheppers. 2017 was the coda on his career with Texas. Spent most of the year in the minors, had 5 appearances over 4 innings with the big club, struck out 5, walked 3, allowed 3 runs. Its a continuation of the checkered path that his career has taken since that fateful 2014 Opening Day start.
Scheppers is a free agent, and will get a look somewhere this offseason. He also turns 31 in January -- yes, he was a 2009 draft pick of the Rangers, but he was selected as a 22 year old after not signing as a college junior in 2008. Its revealing that, in a season where the Rangers were so desperate for relief help, they barely looked at Scheppers.
Best of luck to him wherever he lands in 2018.