by Eddie Middlebrook
This is part four of a four-part series building a 25-man roster of the greatest Rangers would look like. The starting lineup has been set as well as the bench and rotation, so let’s look at the relief pitchers. Keep in mind, we are only looking at the years with Washington/Texas (Senators/Rangers career numbers in parentheses):
John Wetteland (1997-2000, 2.95 ERA, 167 ERA+, 150 saves): After the 1996 season ended with a playoff series loss to the Yankees, the Rangers went out and paid the former New York closer Wetteland. His four years in Texas went so well, Wetteland earned a spot in the Rangers Hall of Fame. To this day, he’s the only pure reliever in the hall. His 150 saves are the most in team history and he has the second and third most saves in a season. Wetteland earned two All-Star appearances and finished sixth in the Cy Young voting in 1999.
Joe Nathan (2012-13, 2.09 ERA, 204 ERA+, 80 saves): If you wanted to make an argument that Nathan should be this team’s closer, I wouldn’t have much of an argument. The long-time Minnesota Twins closer came to Texas in the twilight of his career much like Wetteland. His first season in Texas was great as he earned an All-Star appearance and sported a 157 ERA+, but his 2013 season is just ridiculous. His ERA was 1.39 and his ERA+ was 297. Nathan finished the season with 43 saves which is tied with Wetteland for the second most in franchise history.
Neftali Feliz (2009-15, 2.69 ERA, 164 ERA+, 93 saves): Unfortunately, Feliz’s career in Texas is filled with extreme highs and lows. We will never forget him striking out ARod to send the Rangers to their first World Series. We will also never forget in the 2011 World Series…nevermind. Who knows what Feliz could’ve been had that 2011 season ended different and/or the experiment to make him a starter (which I supported) never happened. Once he came pack up injury, his velocity was sporadic. Feliz is fourth on the Rangers All-Time Saves list.
Kenny Rogers (1989-95, 2000-02, 2004-05, 133-96, 4.16 ERA, 111 ERA+, 28 saves): Rogers had three (!) stints with the Rangers. The franchise Hall of Famer started his career as a reliever, but spent his final 15 seasons as a starter. With Texas, he made three All-Star appearances and won four Gold Gloves.
Jeff Russell (1985-92, 1995-96, 3.73 ERA, 114 ERA+, 134 saves): Russell pitched in the second most games in team history (445). He is also second in saves with 134. Russell was a two-time All-Star and also finished ninth in the Cy Young in 1989 when he led the league with 38 saves. His 32 WAR ranks eighth on the All-Time list.
Francisco Cordero (2000-06, 3.45 ERA, 142 ERA+, 117 saves): If Nathan’s 2013 season is the greatest for a Rangers reliever, than Cordero’s 2004 season is second. He finished that season with a 2.13 ERA, 236 ERA+ and a team-high 49 saves. Those numbers earned him an All-Star appearance and a few MVP votes. He’s third on the franchise list in games played (356) and saves (117).
C.J. Wilson (2005-2011, 43-35, 3.60 ERA, 125 ERA+, 52 saves): Much like Rogers, Wilson started off his career as a reliever, but converted to a starter in 2010. To his credit, he had two very good seasons as a starter. Wilson led the league in starts with 34 in 2011 after starting 33 in 2010. His 2011 season earned him an All-Star appearance and he placed sixth in Cy Young voting. The perception is that he couldn’t pitch in the postseason, but reality is that he was a mixed bag. Wilson was excellent in the 2010 ALDS and World Series, but struggled in the ALCS against the Yankees. In 2011, he struggled in the ALDS and ALCS, but pitched decent in the World Series.
What do you think of this bullpen? Now that you have seen the rotation and bullpen, who do you think should’ve been added? If you add someone, tell us who should be removed.
Eddie Middlebrook is a husband, father of three and saved by grace. Senior Writer for @ballparkbanter9. Formerly with @wfaasports, @shutdowninning and @FoxSportsSW. @IBWAA member. Eddie can be found on Twitter @emiddlebrook.