Leclerc pitched a scoreless 6.2 innings for Gigantes del Cibao in winter league ball in the Dominican Republic. He allowed one hit and walked three while striking out eight.
Leclerc had thrown nearly double those innings each of the last two years of winter ball, but his team did not qualify for the playoffs this year. He adds those 6.2 scoreless innings to the 21 scoreless he pitched over his final 21 outings in 2018, including while serving as Texas' closer. New manager Chris Woodward has talked about using Leclerc in a variety of high-leverage spots, not rigidly marrying him to the ninth inning, but the 25-year-old was excellent as closer. We believe Leclerc will get most of the save opportunities to start the season and, if he continues the improved command he showed last season, will be the primary closer all season.
New Rangers manager Chris Woodward told TR Sullivan of MLB.com that Leclerc "might be more a two- or three-inning guy, that can pitch some significant innings for us that gives us more a chance to win more games."
Woodward used the word "creative" multiple times to describe how he will approach handling his pitching staff in 2019, and he added that he will have to "maximize every guy that we have." Leclerc was excellent after taking over as the Rangers' closer last season, posting a 29:6 K:BB while going 12-for-12 in save opportunities over his final 18 innings (all scoreless). We still like Leclerc's chances of being the primary closer, but he may pitch more in the seventh and eighth, and perhaps even occasionally as an opener, when the situation calls for it.
Leclerc allowed one hit and struck out one in the ninth inning to earn the save Thursday.
Leclerc allowed a leadoff single to Mitch Haniger but retired the next three batters he faced to earn his 12th save of the season. He's taken well to his role as the Rangers' closer, not blowing a save or allowing an earned run across 18 innings since July 30.
Leclerc was not used to close out Sunday's game against the Padres because he had pitched the previous two days, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports.
Leclerc expended 38 pitches in appearances Friday and Saturday and was rightly given the day off Sunday. Jeffrey Springs was given the save chance Sunday, but it didn't end well. He ceded a walkoff grand slam to San Diego's Franciso Mejia.
Leclerc didn't allow a baserunner and struck out one to record the save Saturday against the Padres.
Leclerc made short work of the Padres, needing just 13 pitches to lock up the win for the Rangers and record his 11th save. He's converted all 11 of his opportunities since taking over the role in early August, making him one of the more productive closers as the season comes to an end.
|9/30/2018 vs Seattle|
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|2014||AFA-Myrtle Beach Pelican||4||1||3.30||42||0||0||0||14||57.1||39||23||21||8||2||37||79|
|2016||AAA-Round Rock Express||2||2||2.72||29||0||0||0||1||43.0||23||13||13||3||0||28||50|