Leclerc was placed on the 45-day injured list Thursday with a Grade 2 strain of his teres major, Levi Weaver of The Athletic reports. The injury is similar to the one teammate Corey Kluber (shoulder) is dealing with, though it's apparently a little less serious. Either way, he's set to receive a PRP injection before being shut down for around four weeks. The hope is that Leclerc will be able to return for the end of the season. It's unclear who will step in as the Rangers' closer in his absence, though Nick Goody picked up the save in his place Wednesday. Brett Martin, Jesse Chavez and Jonathan Hernandez are also options, along with Joely Rodriguez (lat) and Rafael Montero (elbow) once healthy.
Leclerc missed out on Wednesday's save opportunity against the Diamondbacks after experiencing right shoulder tightness while warming up, Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News reports. The 26-year-old was expected to have a chance to earn his second save of the season, but his shoulder tightened up and Nick Goody was called upon instead. Leclerc should be considered day-to-day until the team has more information on the injury. He'll be reevaluated on Thursday's scheduled off day.
Leclerc earned his first save of the season by pitching a scoreless inning Friday against Colorado. He walked one and struck out two. Leclerc needed 23 pitches (11 strikes) to get the win in a tight one-run contest, but he got the job done. He started the ninth with a walk to Ryan McMahon, but he redeemed himself with back-to-back strikeouts to Raimel Tapia and Sam Hilliard. Leclerc completed the save when Matt Kemp popped out to first. The 26-year-old went 14-for-18 in save opportunities while posting a 4.33 ERA during the 2019 season, and he is expected to be Texas' closer for the foreseeable future.
Leclerc had some command issues early in his pitching session Friday but improved after making a mechanical adjustment, T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports. Leclerc was taken deep by Rougned Odor before making the adjustments later in the session. The right-hander enters summer camp as the Rangers' closer, although his spotty command was problematic early in 2019 when he lost the ninth-inning job.
Texas manager Chris Woodward believes Leclerc's struggles in 2019 will help him in his role as closer in 2020, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star Telegram reports. Leclerc, who opened the 2019 season as the team's closer, blew up in April when he walked nine batters and posted an 8.44 ERA over 10.2 innings. He was removed from his post as a result but eventually returned as the closer in August. "What he went through last year will help him this year," Woodward said. "He really struggled in all fronts, and was able to overcome it. At the end he was standing pretty tall and proud of what he was able to accomplish. It's not going to be perfect every time he goes out there, but I love where he's at right now." Command has been Leclerc's bane. If it's an issue again in a shortened season, Woodward may not give him a long leash as closer. Rafael Montero and Brett Martin will serve as setup men, meaning they could be in line for saves if Leclerc falters.