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 yesterday.
And today, Part II...
DAVID CARPENTER — C
I mean, C, I guess? David Carpenter’s two stints with the Rangers were odd, as the 33 year old was brought up at the start of June, made one appearance, and then was designated for assignment after giving up 2 runs in 0.2 IP. He cleared waivers, was outrighted, and was back in Nashville until mid-August, when he was added to the 40 man again, brought back up, made three appearances, allowed 2 unearned runs, and then was designated for assignment again.
Carpenter was DFA’d the first time so that Joe Palumbo could make the start in that doubleheader back in June, but the Rangers also had the ability to add a 26th man, which they did by purchasing the contract of Phillips Valdez. Basically, Valdez replaced Carpenter on the 40 man roster, and I’m not sure why Valdez wasn’t just called up in the first place a week earlier. Also, Carpenter replaced Zack Granite on the 25 man roster when he was called up in June, and I bet none of you remember Granite was actually on the active roster at any point this year (he was up because Gallo was dealing with a sore wrist, which I guess was our foreshadowing of the hamate problem that was to come).
The second time Carpenter came up, it was when Jesse Chavez went on the injured list in August. And once again, just about a week later, he was replaced on the active roster by Phillips Valdez, leading me to wonder once again why the Rangers didn’t just call up Valdez in the first place.
JESSE CHAVEZ — B-
Jesse Chavez made his return to Texas on a 2 year, $8 million deal this offseason, filling the dual role of versatile swingman and veteran soothsayer. He was really terrible early on, allowing runs in his first four outings and ending April with a 8.79 ERA, then allowed just 2 runs in 31 IP over 21 games in a six week stretch in May and June, including a run of 18 straight games without allowing a run.
The Rangers were so impressed — or, just as likely, were so unimpressed with others — that they plugged Chavez into the rotation (as a legitimate starter, not in an opener role as he had been used a few times before), and he had a really good start, a decent start, and then three bad starts, culminating in a disastrous 0.2 IP, 7 run outing against Arizona that resulted in him moving back to the bullpen. And he was good there again before a couple of bad outings that was followed by an injured list stint that ended his season.
His overall numbers of a 4.85 ERA/4.41 FIP are pretty meh, but he was good in a relief role after April, and I suspect that overall the Rangers are satisfied with the 0.7 bWAR they got from him in 75 IP. Its kind of weird to think that he was drafted and signed by the Rangers in the very first Grady Fuson draft in 2002.
EMMANUEL CLASE — A
The list of players who make it to the big leagues after being dealt from extended spring training in exchange for a veteran AAA catcher who had cleared waivers a couple of weeks earlier is probably extremely short. The list of players who make it to the big leagues in their first season playing full season ball is also probably extremely short. So the Emmanuel Clase Experience in 2019 qualifies as exceedingly unique, as well as exciting for Texas Rangers fans.
Clase, acquired from the San Diego Padres last spring as the player to be named later received in exchange for Brett Nicholas (a deal that resulted in a fair amount of grousing here from folks who were Nicholas fans), dominated the Northwest League in 2018, jumped two levels to start 2019 in Down East, quickly moved to Frisco, and ended up finishing the year in the big leagues, putting up a 2.31 ERA and a 3.43 FIP in 23.1 IP over 21 games, including one opener appearance.
What is weird about Clase is that, as hard as he throws (his 99.4 MPH average fastball velocity was tied for 3rd highest in MLB for pitchers with at least 20 IP), and as wicked as his movement on his cutter/slider thing is, he doesn’t miss a ton of bats. His swinging strike rate was 10.4% in 2019 — 326th out of 545 pitchers with at least 20 IP. Just among Rangers pitchers, he had a lower swinging strike rate than Jeffrey Springs, Brett Martin, Pedro Payano and Jeff Mathis.
The pitcher he brings to mind is Cardinals reliever Jordan Hicks, who, like Clase, throws really hard (Hicks was first in average FB velocity in 2019) and doesn’t miss a ton of bats (11.9% swinging strike rate in 2019, compared to 9.4% in 2019). I marveled last year how Hicks threw so hard and yet got so few (comparatively speaking) strikeouts, and I marvel the same way at Clase.
Nevertheless, in his brief major league stint, he held opponents to a very impressive .280 xwOBA (slightly less than his actual .292 wOBA allowed). His track record suggests he may be one of those relievers who actually is able to generate weak contact on a regular basis, and he’ll likely be in a late inning role for Texas next year, assuming that the Rangers don’t address their potential surplus of hard-throwing righthanded relievers by dealing Clase this offseason.
KYLE DOWDY — D
It seems like we can tell that the regular season is about to start because the Rangers claim a Rule 5 pitcher on waivers to put on the Opening Day roster. The Rangers drafted Jordan Romano in the Rule 5 draft last year, returned him to the Toronto Blue Jays, and then claimed Dowdy on waivers just a couple of days before the season started. Dowdy threw hard but not accurately, putting up a 7.25 ERA and 6.57 FIP in 22.1 IP while allowing 18 walks against 17 Ks before going on the injured list.
Dowdy got a full 30 days on his rehab assignment in the minors, and it seemed to be a given that the Rangers would go ahead and activate him from the injured list in late July and limp along with him on the 25 man roster for a month until rosters expanded in September. To my surprise, though, Dowdy was designated for assignment to clear a spot to acquire reliever Shane Carle, then cleared waivers and was returned to Cleveland, from whence he came.
Between the Rangers burning a roster spot on Dowdy much of 2019 to no avail, and Carlos Tocci being designated for assignment in late July as well (and later released) after burning a roster spot on him all of 2018, I like to think the Rangers decided sometime that month that they were done with Rule 5 drama and opted to move on.