Kyle Cody is, as Tepid would say, no longer a dude. The 26 year old righthanded pitcher made his major league debut for the Texas Rangers last night, pitching the 8th inning in what would be a Rangers loss, and now officially has a major league stat line.
I have been lax in doing my post-game “Thoughts” posts this past week, in large part because by the time the games have been over I’ve either been asleep or just about asleep, and thus not equipped to do a post-game post. Which in the case of last night’s game is unfortunate, because I would have liked to have talked about Kyle Cody’s debut...but hey, I can still do that this morning, so here you go.
Cody was a 6th round pick out of the University of Kentucky in 2016. A senior, he had been taken in the 2nd round by the Minnesota Twins the year before (after having been viewed as a potential first rounder headed into 2015) with their competitive balance pick, but did not sign. The Twins’ loss was the Rangers’ gain, as after scooping him up with a $150,000 signing bonus, Texas saw Cody put up a 2.64 ERA in 126 IP in 2017, putting up 136 Ks against 43 walks while splitting the season between low-A and high-A.
Unfortunately, until last night, that was Cody’s last action outside of a complex league. Cody was diagnosed with a damaged UCL in spring, 2018, went the rest and rehab route, and had two rehab appearances for the AZL Rangers before it was determined he needed Tommy John surgery, which cost him the rest of 2018 and all of 2019.
Despite the loss of two seasons, the Rangers added Cody to their 40 man roster this past offseason, based on his having established himself as one of the team’s better pitching prospects in 2017, and his having impressed in instructionals at the end of 2019. Pre-COVID-19, Cody was seen as someone to keep an eye on for 2020, but was also expected to have his innings managed in such a way that he would be unlikely to contribute to the major league team.
That has obviously all changed now. With no minor league action going on, and the major league season not starting until late July due to Coronavirus, Cody’s innings limit was no longer a major concern, and when the Rangers put Elvis Andrus and Willie Calhoun on the injured list, it opened the door for Cody to join the team in the bullpen.
Cody needed just 13 pitches to strike out the side yesterday against the Seattle Mariners in his one inning of work. His fastball topped out at 96.2 mph and was consistently at 95-96 mph, and he threw his slider 6 times, inducing 3 swinging strikes. In all he generated 5 swinging strikes out of the 13 pitches he threw.
Cody is a big (6’7”) guy who is viewed as having a starter’s build and arsenal, and so he may not stay in the bullpen for long. Kolby Allard didn’t make it out of the first inning yesterday, his second bad start in a row, and Joe Palumbo is currently on the injured list with ulcerative colitis. Given that there are basically just five weeks and two days left in the season, Cody can pitch regularly the rest of the way and still have a manageable innings total for the year after his two seasons of inactivity.
Cody isn’t going to be in a position to log starter’s innings at this point, but it wouldn’t be shocking to me if they had him pitch as an opener for Allard next time out, or piggy-backed the two of them. It is also possible that there will be an opening in the rotation in ten days, as Lance Lynn, one of the five or so best pitchers in baseball since the start of 2019, would seem to be someone the Rangers are going to at least listen on, given the need teams have for pitching help and the price he could command in a deal. There should be opportunities for Cody to show his stuff the rest of the way, and potentially vault himself to the top of the pecking order among the Rangers’ internal young starting pitching options.