Ricky Rodriguez Makes A Splash In Bullpen

The promotions of Ricky Rodriguez and Nick Gardewine from Double-A Frisco to the big league bullpen can be taken one of two ways.

There’s this: The righthanders earned their way to the Rangers bullpen by throwing strikes, showing ample velocity and keeping the ball in the ballpark.

And there’s this: The Rangers farm system is short on arms, starters or relievers, and the crop at Triple-A Round Rock hadn’t shown scouts enough for a promotion.

Both takes are correct.

Rodriguez has made the most of his opportunity, pitching so well that he was entrusted to close out a Rangers victory on Aug. 24 against the Angels in a key series with implications on the wild-card race. Gardewine, a 2013 seventh-round pick out of junior college, was only with the club for three days.

But each now is on the 40-man roster and will have the opportunity to secure spots in the 2018 Opening Day bullpen. Rodriguez might have already earned one.

“We’ve got a young kid out there who has been throwing the ball well, has been throwing strikes, and looks the part,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. “There’s an element of trust.”

That’s saying something about a pitcher who missed most of the past two seasons and opened this year at high Class A High East before moving to Frisco. Rodriguez, whom the Rangers signed out of Venezuela in 2010, dominated the Carolina and Texas leagues. He recorded a 1.34 ERA in 35 appearances while notching 17 saves to go with 61 strikeouts and 10 walks in 47 innings.

The Rangers’ bullpen has been their soft spot this season, and it has been a revolving door of pitchers who either struggled or were injured.

The 25-year-old Rodriguez hasn’t struggled, and Gardewine has come on strong. They now find themselves in good position for 2018.


• The Rangers acquired 19-year-old outfielder Pedro Gonzalez from the Rockies to complete the Jonathan Lucroy trade. The Rangers acquired five minor leaguers at the trade deadline, one of whom, Willie Calhoun, became one of their top prospects.

• With just two catchers on the 40-man roster, the Rangers were considering adding Double-A catcher Jose Trevino as a September callup. He was in big league camp for the first time this year and was named to the Texas League all-star team in large part due to his defensive prowess.

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