If his brief stint with the Texas Rangers last season is any indication, right-hander Jeremy Jeffress is set up for a fantastic 2017.
The Texas Rangers took Jeremy Jeffress as the second part of the Jonathan Lucroy trade last season. But after watching what he did in the bullpen last season, it became clear why the Rangers wanted him.
What 2016 taught us
Jeffress appeared in just 12 games with Texas last season. Yet, he made quite the impression in that short window of time. In 13 1/3 innings of work, he held opposing hitters to an AVG./OBP./SLG. .227/.333/.295, surrendering just four runs on 10 hits. But don’t let the small sample size fool you, either. He was equally good with the Brewers prior to the trade.
With the Brewers, Jeffress posted a 2.22 ERA in 44 2/3 innings of work as mostly a closer. He also posted a 1.254 WHIP, allowing a slash line of .262/.319/.343. Regardless of which uniform Jeffress wore last season, he got outs and lots of them.
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His strikeout totals for the season weren’t as impressive as his other numbers, but they didn’t have to be. In 58 innings pitched, only two hitters took him deep last year.
The last long ball came against him on June 1 while he was still with the Brewers. With Milwaukee already up 3-0, he entered the ninth trying to lock down the ballgame. Brandon Moss led off the inning with a nine pitch at bat that resulted in a home run to right field. Ever the gamer though, Jeffress mowed down the remaining three hitters on six pitches to get the save.
Once he joined the Texas Rangers, he saw more work as a setup man and none as a closer. He’ll likely remain in that role to start the season this spring.
What to expect in 2017
In all, the only real trouble Jeffress faced last season came off the field. On August 26, he found himself on the MLB restricted list after an arrest for a DWI. He spent nearly a month in rehab, costing himself and the Rangers some valuable time. Regardless of what happens on the field in 2017, we all hope substance abuse and rehabilitation are a thing of the past for Jeffress.
If he stays healthy and keeps his personal life under control, the 29-year-old could be in store for a breakthrough season. His ERA, WHIP and HR/9 numbers have shrunk each of the past two seasons. While it’s unrealistic to expect this to remain the case at Globe Life Park, he is an elite reliever.
Expect about 75 innings with a final record of about 4-2 and an ERA of roughly 2.50. He pitches especially well against righties and will continue that trend this season, holding them to an average of under .200. Obtaining about 25 holds is not out of the question and he will probably work in about three saves and could get more chances if the opportunity arises. But regardless of which inning he takes the mound, he’ll be effective and this will be another strong season.