Texas Rangers have some reason for optimism in their 2023 bullpen

(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) /

The Texas Rangers are not in a good place in regards to their pitching. The starting ranks have been an underworked disaster and the bullpen has been an overworked disaster.

The starting rotation is a six-pack of discussions just by itself. We’ll be devoting much of our offseason coverage to issues revolving around the rotation, be it trades, free agent signings, and/or prospect development.

Today we’re looking at the bullpen.

The Texas Rangers have had major issues in the pitching ranks this season but the pain of today could pave the way for success tomorrow.

Evan Grant at DMN recently highlighted the success of relievers Brock Burke and Taylor Hearn in their long-reliever-type roles. Brock Burke, specifically, has been a blessing in his time in the bullpen this season. The converted starter has made a living with the Rangers by pitching in multiple-inning relief.

Because of this multi-inning relief, Burke hasn’t exactly fit the prototype of your typical high value reliever. But on a team in which the rotation is notoriously bounced early, Burke has been invaluable to the Texas Rangers this season and very likely next.

While Burke has shown interest in competing for the rotation next season, moving a sure thing like him from the bullpen just opens up an additional question mark on the roster. The chances are very likely he’ll be back in a similar role next season and Taylor Hearn will probably be the guy along side him.

Hearn has used up his nine lives as a starter and is now resigned to being in the bullpen indefinitely. Like Burke, Hearn pitches multiple innings. Like Burke, he’s not available every day. Like Burke, he requires creativity in his deployment. But most importantly, like Burke, Hearn has proven to be an asset in the bullpen.

Set-up and closer have been question marks all season and appear to be question marks heading into next season as well. And chances are, the Texas Rangers won’t be filling it with any high value proven entity this winter. So why should there’s be optimism?


Time has been key for this painfully slow Rangers rebuild and time remains key for their development going forward. A couple of the top bullpen options on staff, Jose Leclerc and Jonathan Hernandez, need time from their most recent injuries.

Hernandez has elite closer stuff (99-100mph) but hasn’t been able to put it all back together following surgery. There’s optimism he’ll be up to the challenge of closer by spring. Leclerc may never challenge for that closer spot again but he’s further removed from his own surgery and should be able to regain his form (hopefully some command) in the near future.

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The Texas Rangers will be committed to fix the rotation this winter and the vast majority of their resources will be thrown into that part of the team. But the bullpen should organically improve from having a better understanding of who is already on the roster, how to use them, and possibly moving more young starting options into relief again next summer.