With the 2019 Texas Rangers season now over, I’m going to do a series of posts handing out grades to every player who appeared for the Rangers this year. I’m starting with pitchers, will go in alphabetical order, and then will do position players in alphabetical order.
Grades will be based on a combination of performance, expectations, and my own whims at the moment I happen to be typing this up. They aren’t to be taken too seriously.
Here is Part I, from Monday, and Part II, from yesterday.
And today, Part III...
PETER FAIRBANKS — ?
Peter Fairbanks, to me, sort of encapsulates the entire 2019 Texas Rangers season, and I have no idea how to assign him any sort of grade.
For those who have forgotten, Fairbanks was a 9th round draft pick in 2015 out of the University of Missouri who threw only 18 innings in 2017 before undergoing his second Tommy John surgery of his career. He missed all of 2018, then showed up in spring training 2019 with a weird delivery, throwing lightning bolts. He started the year in high-A, was good, went to Frisco, struck out 14 of the 24 batters he faced while not walking anyone and allowing 2 hits, then moved up to Nashville, then to the big leagues.
After his first two outings Rangers fans were going nuts over him and wanted him to be the new closer. He struggled after that, and had three straight outings of 1 IP or less with multiple runs allowed before being sent back to Nashville. Ten days later, Fairbanks was gone, shipped to Tampa for Nick Solak. He spent most of his time in Tampa in AAA until rosters expanded.
So Fairbanks was great in the minors. Awesome! High grade! Then he had a 9.35 ERA in the majors in 8.2 IP. Terrible! Low grade! Then he was traded for Nick Solak. What? Good? Bad? Okay?
Ultimately, Fairbanks is a great story, he was fun to follow while here, and he landed the Rangers a really nice young position player. I will root for him in Tampa. The entire Peter Fairbanks Saga seems very Texas Rangers.
LUKE FARRELL — A
Luke Farrell was supposed to be AAA pitching depth, but got him by a line drive back up the middle in spring training and broke his jaw. He spent most of the year on the 60 day injured list before doing a 30 day rehab assignment with the AZL Rangers and with Frisco before joining the big league team in mid-August.
And Farrell did well in limited action! He had a 2.70 ERA in 13.1 IP, though with a 5.01 FIP. His bWAR of 0.6 was, well, pretty good. He had an xwOBA of .257, suggesting his ERA was much more indicative than his FIP of how he pitched, though the 48 batter sample size obviously means we are working with very limited data.
Farrell was a waiver claim in January, 2018, and he has an option remaining, which means there’s flexibility in dealing with him. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s waived when the season is over, but I also wouldn’t be shocked if he stuck on the 40 man roster all offseason, as he appears to have made a good impressive on the Rangers staff.
Anyway, a guy who comes back from a broken face and posts a sub-3 ERA for the Rangers deserves an A, I think.
IAN GIBAUT — C
Yet another refugee from the Tampa Bay Rays. Gibaut, a righty reliever, was acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays on July 28, 2019, for a player to be named later or cash, with Gibaut having been designated for assignment by the Rays a few days earlier so they could activate Matt Duffy from the 60 day injured list.
Gibaut is large (listed at 6’3”, 250 lbs.), righthanded, and throws hard, so he blends in with much of the rest of the Rangers young pitchers. An 11th round pick out of Tulane in 2015, he was added to the 40 man roster for the first time after the 2018 season, and has two options remaining.
Gibaut wasn’t particularly good in the Rangers organization, putting up a 5.11 ERA in 12.1 IP in the majors, walking 8 of the 55 batters he faced and striking out 14, and putting up a 7.94 ERA in 5.2 AAA IP. He’s one of many big hard throwing righty relievers the Rangers have, so he could find himself dealt for Moon Pies and pennywhistles this offseason, or put on waivers, or he could stick around and bounce up and down in 2020, particularly if the Rangers opt to do a Rays-esque opener/bullpen game type thing with one of their rotation spots next year.
JEANMAR GOMEZ — F
I’m mystified by the Rangers’ handling of Jeanmar Gomez in 2019.
He came to camp on a non-roster invite. He was a veteran reliever but had never been particularly good, other than in 2015, when he had a 1.3 bWAR for the Phillies. Yes, he had “closer experience,” saving 37 games for Philly in 2016, but he did that with a 4.85 ERA and a 3.96 FIP. He seemed like a camp arm you have around just in case, and that you plan on stashing in AAA.
But Gomez made the team out of spring training. The Rangers added him to the 40 man roster and the 25 man roster. Gomez had no options remaining, so he didn’t give them any roster flexibility, but apparently there was a feeling he could give the team value in a middle relief role.
In his first outing, on Opening Day, Gomez faced three hitters, struck out one of them, and allowed a hit and a walk to the other two. One of his inherited runners scored. Two days later he allowed 2 runs in an inning of work, turning a 1 run deficit into a 3 run deficit.
Then Chris Woodward kind of stopped using him. Gomez had 7 appearances in April. After pitching on March 30, he didn’t pitch again until April 4. He pitched again on April 6, then not again until April 12. After a 2 IP, 5 run outing in Seattle on April 25, Gomez didn’t pitch again until May 5 — over a week later. And even then, it was in a game the Rangers were up 8.
Gomez then pitched in three straight games in Houston, on May 9-11, and I guess if you are trying to get a pitcher released having him pitch three straight times in Houston against the Astros would be a strategy. He pitched only once in the following week before going back-to-back outings against the Cardinals on May 18 and May 19.
What made it particularly mystifying is that, if you recall, no one in the rotation other than Lance Lynn and Mike Minor was going deep into games at that point. The bullpen was being ridden heavily. And yet, the veteran who was presumably in the bullpen to give them innings wasn’t being turned to, at all. From April 26 through May 19, Gomez threw a total of 72 pitches.
Gomez remained on the roster for another week after May 19, but Woodward simply didn’t use him after that. The Rangers finally designated him for assignment on May 27, and released him on June 1. He has not pitched since then.
Gomez ended his stint with the Rangers with an 8.22 ERA in 15.1 IP over 16 games. He faced 73 batters, and 30 of them either had a hit, a walk or an HBP. Over the final month he was a Ranger, his status was seemingly a constant topic of discussion — was today the day that Jeanmar Gomez would be DFA’d? The Rangers will be calling up a fresh arm...is Jeanmar going to go?
It was a weird subplot to the first couple of months of the season.