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TEXAS RANGER

New Rangers Relievers Know Why They’re Here

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David Robertson and Kirby Yates know why the Texas Rangers signed them this offseason. It didn’t need much explanation.

But Robertson admitted that he didn’t pay too much attention to the Rangers’ epically bad save conversation rate in the regular season. He was too busy trying to help the Miami Marlins reach the playoffs. But after signing a one-year deal with the Rangers this offseason, he did his research.

“I looked back and saw a few things that happened here,” Robertson said. “I mean, I’m hoping that maybe I can shore up some of those holes that they had last year.” Last season, the Rangers became the first team in history to make the playoffs with a save rate of less than 50% (30-of-63).

The Rangers still won their first World Series, in part because the bullpen got hot at the right time. Save percentage can be a misleading number, Robertson said, depending upon when the save is blown. But he said there is a sweet spot when it comes to save conversion that would definitely help the Rangers this season.

“The way I look at it is if you’re knocking down 85% of them as a bullpen, you’re doing a good job,” Robertson said. Robertson and Yates could both emerge as potential closer options, as the Rangers don’t have much returning from last year’s ninth-inning pitchers.

José Leclerc is the only returning reliever who had a save last season. He had four. The other two Rangers with saves — Will Smith (22) and Aroldis Chapman (4) are in Kansas City and Pittsburgh, respectively. Leclerc has never been a full-time closer.

Neither has Josh Sborz, who was on the mound for Game 5 of the World Series but didn’t record a save last regular season. Yates isn’t campaigning for a closer role. But he is hoping, like Robertson, to earn a high-leverage role.

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