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2019 Texas Rangers grades: Pitchers, Part IV

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We continue to grade all the Texas Rangers from 2019

Oakland Athletics v Texas Rangers Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

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 Tuesday, and Part II, from Wednesday, and Part III, from Thursday.

And today, Part IV...

TAYLOR GUERRIERI — C+

A former first round pick in 2011 of the Tampa Bay Rays, Taylor Guerrieri was part of the gaggle of arms that came into camp this spring on a minor league deal. Like Jesse Biddle, Guerreri was a former first rounder turned top 100 prospect turned injury-plagued reclamation project. He made it to the majors with Toronto in 2018 for the first time, allowing 5 runs in 9.2 IP, and was called up by the Rangers in July after a solid run in a middle relief role for Nashville in the first half of the season.

Guerrieri took a 3.10 ERA into the final month of the season, but allowed 10 runs in 6 IP in September, including 11 walks, a home run and an HBP against just 4 Ks, bloating his ERA in the majors on the year to 5.81. However, his expected numbers were pretty good — he had an xwOBA of .325, compared to an actual wOBA of .376. Given the 40 man roster situation and the number of righty relievers the Rangers have, along with his being out of options, he seems unlikely to stick on the major league roster — however, he’s someone who I suspect the Rangers would look at bringing back on a minor league deal.

TAYLOR HEARN — Frowny Face Emoji

For those of you who have blocked this out, Hearn was called up in April from AAA to make one spot start against the Mariners, retired just one batter, went on the injured list with elbow inflammation, and didn’t pitch again all year. Bookmark this for future “how bad can calling him up for one game be?” discussions.

Also, Isiah Kiner-Falefa caught Hearn in this game, rather than Jeff Mathis, which resulted in much grousing, and folks asking what the point of signing Mathis was if he wasn’t going to catch a Taylor Hearn on the road in his major league debut.

Hearn is expected to be good to go for 2020, though he’s fallen behind Brock Burke, Joe Palumbo and Kolby Allard in the lefty starter pecking order, and appears to be in the Jonathan Hernandez “likely reliever” category.

JONATHAN HERNANDEZ — B

Hey, speaking of Jonathan Hernandez...

Isn’t it kind of weird that the Two Taylors who pitched for the Rangers are back-to-back in the alphabetical ordering of the pitchers this year, as are Hearn and Hernandez, the two “well regarding upper level starting pitching prospects who likely end up in the bullpen” guys?

Anyway, Hernandez, on his second option, had a spotty campaign for AA Frisco, putting up a 5.16 ERA in 96 IP. He had some brilliant outings and some godawful outings, and by late in the year, the Rangers were using him as a multi-inning reliever, a role he also took on when he was promoted to the big leagues in mid-August, as six of his nine appearances for Texas were for 2 innings or more.

Hernandez has a solid three pitch mix, but the consensus is that his delivery is going to limit his ability to command his pitches well enough to be a good major league starter. He would seem to be well-suited for the MLB bullpen of the 20s, though, as he throws hard, can go more than one inning, and is a nice opener option. He put up a 4.32 ERA in 16.2 IP for the Rangers, though he allowed 3 homers and 13 walks. His .342 xwOBA allowed wasn’t terrible, though, and he could have a significant role in the 2020 bullpen, particularly if the Rangers go the Rays route of using openers regularly and/or using bullpen games from time to time.

WEI-CHIEH HUANG — INC

I forgot he pitched in the majors this year. He had 5.2 IP in the majors, allowed 5 runs, struck out 2 of 32 batters faced, and walked 5 while hitting 1. A righty reliever whose best pitch is a changeup, he has a profile that has a hard time making it in the majors, and he struggled to stay healthy and effective in the minors.

While Huang has two options remaining, I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up on waivers or gets traded in a minor deal before Rule 5 guys have to be added.