The Texas Rangers are the surprise of the baseball season to this point.
They’re in first place in the AL West with a record of 49-32 and have a run differential of +157 heading into Friday night’s slate of games.
With things trending positively for manager Bruce Bochy’s team, the Rangers improved one area of weakness via trade on Friday — their bullpen. Texas traded pitcher Cole Ragans and outfielder Roni Cabrera for Kansas City Royals reliever Aroldis Chapman.
Chapman is in the midst of a resurgence this season and currently holds an ERA of 2.45 with 53 strikeouts in 29 1/3 innings. Although Chapman is 35 years old, the southpaw can still consistently hit 99 MPH and has loads of high-leverage experience. The flamethrower has an elite strikeout rate of 43.4 percent, which ranks second among relievers with 20-plus innings pitched. Chapman scuffled last season with the Yankees and posted the worst ERA of his career (4.46), but he has returned to form in 2023 and is exactly what Texas needed.
While Rangers closer Will Smith has been solid this season, converting 14-of-15 save chances, the bullpen as a whole has been a detriment to an otherwise great team. Per Covers.com, the Rangers have a bullpen ERA of 4.37, which ranks 24th in the league.
Chapman has 317 saves in his career and it will be interesting to see how he is ultimately used in Texas. For the Royals, Chapman primarily served as a setup man and that trend will likely continue with the Rangers.
If the Rangers are to go far in the playoffs, Chapman could be an integral piece of the puzzle. His postseason ERA of 2.40 in 35 games certainly factored into Texas pulling the trigger for one of the best relievers of all time. Chapman once helped the Cubs win a World Series in 2016 and he will be looking to do the same in the the Lone Star State.