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2019 Texas Rangers grades: Pitchers, Part V

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We continue to grade all the Texas Rangers from 2019

Texas Rangers v New York Yankees Photo by Adam Hunger/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, and Part II, and Part III, from last week. Here is Part IV from Monday.

And today, Part V...

ARIEL JURADO — C-

I have a confession to make. I am doing these grades most weekdays until I get done. I planned on doing a post on the pitcher grades yesterday. And then I pulled up B-R, sorted 2019 pitchers alphabetically, saw Ariel Jurado, stared at the screen for a while, and then closed out Chrome.

I just could not make myself write about Ariel Jurado yesterday. I didn’t want to think about his season, didn’t want to offer any thoughts, didn’t want to put down words about Ariel Jurado.

I tweeted this out six and a half years ago:

Similarly, sometimes being the Blogamemnon means needing to write about Ariel Jurado when you don’t want to.

And to be clear, this isn’t intended as a dig at Ariel Jurado, or anything. This isn’t personal. Being online sometimes results in us talking about and acting like these guys are video game characters, not real people, as I was reminded of this week:

So I want to expressly say I don’t have any beef with Ariel Jurado. He’s a serviceable pitcher who I think is basically an up-and-down guy, and he will probably hang around the next decade getting minor league deals and picking up major league innings now and then while mostly toiling in AAA. He’s one of the best in the world at what he does, which is more than just about any of us case say.

I think it may be simply that Jurado’s 2019 season was just such a tease, gave even us skeptics reason to be cautiously optimistic, only to then fall apart. Jurado started the season in AAA, made four starts, and then came up to the majors and joined the Rangers bullpen.

And was good! He didn’t allow any runs in his first 6 outings. Then he allowed 4 unearned runs in 1.2 IP in his 7th relief outing, in a blowout in Houston, then allowed 2 earned runs in 2.1 IP in Kansas city. He had a not great start in St. Louis, pitched a scoreless inning of relief, and then returned to the rotation, where he had an impressive streak of six straight Quality Starts. After a bad 7 run, 3 IP start in cincinnati, he gave up 4 runs in 6 IP against the ChiSox, and then threw 7 scoreless innings against Detroit. At the end of June, he had a 3.90 ERA, and was looking like he was could potentially be a nice major league pitcher after all.

Then things went to hell. A few bad starts, a couple of good ones mixed in, and then in mid-August he had back to back 8 run outings, one of them in 3.2 IP, one of them in 2 IP. He followed that up with a 6 run, 8 IP complete game, moved back to the pen, and didn’t start again until a game against Tampa in September, when he allowed 6 runs in 1.2 IP. He only pitched four times in September, and whether that was due to his workload, a physical issue, or just Chris Woodward wanting to look at other guys, I don’t know.

Here’s Jurado’s ERA by month:

April — 0.00

May — 2.63

June — 5.46

July — 6.99

August — 6.08

September — 13.03

That’s not an encouraging trend line.

Jurado was on his second option in 2019, but I’m not sure if he spent enough time in the minors before getting called up to have actually burned the option. Either way, he will have at least one option in 2020, and will likely be an up-and-down guy next year.

Jurado’s big weakness is that he doesn’t miss bats — he’s a groundball, sinker/slider guy in a four seam era. His stuff played up somewhat in the pen, and the Rangers may have to decide whether he’s better as a multi-inning reliever in the Jesse Chavez mode rather than as a starting pitcher.

SHAWN KELLEY — C

Another guy whose early season was really good and his late season was terrible. Kelley was outstanding early on, putting up a 1.50 ERA in 12 IP in April and stepping into the closer role after Jose Leclerc’s early struggles, and earning praise from Chris Woodward for his willingness to pitch in any role, at any time, anywhere.

Then he had the scare with his health that necessitated throat surgery, missed time, learned he didn’t have cancer, was fine, and then had a couple of other physical issues which appeared to impact him in the second half, and he went from a guy who looked like a great signing and a potential big time July trade chip to a guy who was awful the final couple of months.

First half Kelley: 3.09 ERA, 32 Ks in 32 IP, 5 walks, 6 HRs allowed

Second half Kelley: 8.80 ERA, 11 Ks in 15.1 IP, 6 walks, 6 HRs allowed

The Rangers have a $2.5 million team option on him for 2020 with a $250,000 buyout, and to my mind, keeping him around for $2.25 million makes sense, even with all the righty relief arms Texas has. Kelley has also said he will retire if the Rangers don’t bring him back, though, so my theory that you can always trade him after exercising the option if need be may not work so well.

JOSE LECLERC...

Aw, man. Okay, I’m at 1000 words on this post already, even with just two pitchers being covered. And Leclerc is going to require a lot of thought to write up. So we are done for today.