By Michael Bier
BULLPEN – (ERA / STRIKEOUTS / *SAVES)
LRP – (2010) RHP – Alexi Ogando (1.30 / 39)
MRP – (2015) RHP – Keone Kela (2.39 / 68)
MRP – (2010) RHP – Neftali Feliz (2.73 / 71 / 40)
MRP – (2012) LHP – Robbie Ross (2.22 / 47)
MRP – (2010) RHP – Darren O’Day (2.03 / 45)
SU – (2013) LHP – Neal Cotts (1.11 / 65)
SU – (2013) RHP – Tanner Scheppers (1.88 / 59)
CP – (2013) RHP – Joe Nathan (1.39 / 73 / 43)
This was by far the most difficult component to piece together for this team. Don’t believe me? Well, I wouldn’t blame you. Even though the pen has been a major issue in recent years, if you put together the best of the best you’d be surprised at how it turns out. I had to take 20+ arms into consideration while at the same time filtering lefties and righties as close to equal as I could possibly could. Long story short, this wasn’t easy.
Alexi Ogando was one of those swingman type of pitchers you could almost always rely on whether he’s coming out of the pen or starting a game. His 2010 season just might’ve been his best not only as a reliever, but in his career alone. Ogando had a number of years in which he started for the Rangers (none good enough to make the rotation) but why should that matter? Well, being that Ogando could go the distance, a long relief / sixth starter role fits him perfectly on this team.
Since becoming a free agent after the 2014 season, Ogando has played for three different teams, having been released by two of them. Alexi is currently a free agent.
Keone Kela was one of the most well kept secrets within the Rangers organization throughout the years. Dating back to 2014, Kela kept his ERA below 2.50 while playing for the Rangers AA and A+ affiliates, yet still seemed to go unnoticed. That wasn’t to be case any longer, as in 2015 he blossomed. Just like his fastball, Kela’s success continuously blew by fans before they could even realize it. Keone’s rookie year is comparable to that of Neftali Feliz’s in 2010, and if that doesn’t speak out to how dominant he was, then I don’t know what does.
Despite having a down year in 2016, Kela bounced back, as in 2017, he’s one of the Rangers deadliest weapons out of the pen.
Neftali Feliz’s 2010 season was one Rangers fans should never forget. Neftali closed out 40 games that year while posting an ERA of 2.73 and striking out more than 70 batters with that upper 90’s heat of his. Feliz also won the 2010 American League Rookie of The Year award, while at the same time earning his first and only all star selection. Feliz was the anchor of the bullpen during the Rangers historic 2010 season, and striking out Alex Rodriguez to advance the Rangers to the World Series enshrined him into one of the greatest moments in franchise history. Following the 2011 season, the Rangers desperately needed a fifth starter, so they made possibly the worst decision they could’ve come up with; they converted Neftali Feliz into a starter. Feliz started a total of 7 games before having to miss the rest of the 2012 along with the majority of 2013 due to Tommy John surgery. He made his return in 2014, and despite exceeding expectations with an ERA under 2.00, his struggles the following year lead to him being DFA’d.
Since parting ways with the Rangers, Neftali has played for four different teams. He’s currently a member of the Kansas City Royals.
Robbie Ross goes down as one of the most forgotten and overlooked Rangers relievers to ever pitch for the club. It’s seems as if out of the blue success from the relievers analyzed to this point has become a trend, and this case is no different. Robbie may not have had the nastiest stuff, but an ERA of 2.22 shouldn’t just be tossed to the side. Also, being that he’s a lefty really helps out this bullpen as there’s only one other. Not only was Ross outstanding on the hill, but he was a fan favorite as well. Robbie participated in the annual cow milking contest held by the Rangers each year, and was heavily involved in the community. That being said, the trade that sent him to Boston in January of 2015 was a rather depressing transaction for Rangers fans.
Since being traded, Ross has spent the entirety of his post-Rangers career with Boston.
Darren O’Day could very well be considered the best setup man in the history of the franchise. O’Day was dominant in 2010, as he posted a sparkling ERA of 2.03 while almost always holding the opposition when necessary. O’Day is one of only a few submarine (sidearm) pitchers in the league, and being so made him ten times more effective on hitters. So if he was so good, why did the Rangers let him go? Well, in their eyes a down season in 2011 meant he could apparently no longer be effective. Let’s just say the Rangers were terribly wrong.
Since being waived by the Rangers following the 2011 season, O’Day has spent the entire rest of his career with the Baltimore Orioles. Dating back to 2012, O’Day has pitched to an average ERA of 2.29. Nice Going Rangers.
Neal Cotts to many people’s surprise, was actually one of the most dominant lefties the Rangers have had over the past six years. His success was more of a one year type of thing, but that’s really all you need to make this team. In 2013, Cotts pitched to a jaw dropping ERA of 1.13 that he sustained throughout the entirety of the season. Not a single person on the planet saw this coming, not even Cotts himself.
The Rangers decided to opt against bringing Cotts back following the 2014 season, and since then has been with 7 different teams. One of those 7 teams was the Rangers, who signed him back in 2016 for a second go around that turned out to be nothing. Cotts is currently a member of the Washington Nationals.
Tanner Scheppers wowed not only fans of the Rangers, but of baseball in general. Scheppers excelled out of the setup role in 2013 with a staggering ERA of 1.88, which nobody thought he could achieve. Tanner was nominated for the American league’s final vote ballot at the end of all star voting, and despite not making the cut, still performed statistically better than a number of relievers who did.
If you would like to go see Scheppers pitch, you can, as he’s still a member of the club, but you’re going to have to make a trip to Round Rock.
Joe Nathan came over to the Rangers in 2012 following a seven year stint with the Twins. In his first full season with Texas, he didn’t do all that bad, but it was the following year that caught my eye. In 2013, at age 38, Nathan tallied 43 saves, recorded over 70 strikeouts, earned his second consecutive all star selection, and posted the second lowest ERA of his career. For most Rangers fans, Neftali Feliz goes down as this team’s closer, but when I look at Nathan’s stats from 2013, it’s hard not to take him over Feliz.
Nathan became a free agent following the 2013 season, and three years later announced his retirement at the age of 41.
HONORABLE MENTIONS – (ERA / STRIKEOUTS / *SAVES)
(2011) Mike Adams (2.10 / 25)
(2011) Darren Oliver (2.29 / 44)
(2012) Koji Uehara (1.75 / 43)
(2013) Jason Frasor (2.57 / 48)
(2014) Roman Mendez (2.18 / 22)
(2014) Joakim Soria (2.70 / 42)
(2015) Sam Dyson (1.35 / 30)
(2015) Jake Diekman (2.08 / 20)
(2015) Shawn Tolleson (2.99 / 76 / 35)
(2016) Sam Dyson (2.43 / 55 / 38)
(2016) Matt Bush (2.48 / 61)
(2016) Tony Barnette (2.09 / 49)
(2016) Alex Claudio (2.79 / 34)
Twitter – @Michaelbtwt
Email – Michaelbier2001@yahoo.com