Who was the Texas Rangers’ most effective reliever against left-handers in 2016?
Left-hander Jake Diekman? Maybe Matt Bush or Sam Dyson?
Nope. It was lefty Alex Claudio, who held left-handed hitters to a .177 batting average with a 2.65 ERA.
Claudio, who turned 25 on Tuesday, pitched a career-high 51 2/3 innings in ’16. His role in the bullpen could grow in 2017 with Diekman out for at least the first half of the season after undergoing surgery for ulcerative colitis.
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.177 Batting average for left-handed hitters against Rangers reliever Alex Claudio in 2016
“It’s something very unfortunate,” said Claudio, who heard the news through social media. “I’m hoping he rejoins the bullpen as soon as possible.”
Although Claudio was less dominant against right-handed hitters (they hit .310 against him compared with .177 for Diekman) he still held a lower ERA than Diekman — 2.86 to 3.38 — despite giving up twice as many hits (44 to 22).
Overall, Claudio’s 2.79 ERA was the fourth lowest in the bullpen among relievers with at least 50 innings pitched. He pitched at least two innings in 11 games in ’16.
“I understand with the numbers I put up last year it’s enough for the team be confident in me,” he said. “I’m expecting the team to give me the chance to be more active with my bullpen role.”
Claudio has been trained by Luis Cadiz, who runs Cadiz Athletic Performance in Puerto Rico, since 2012.
“My focus with Alexander is keeping him healthy,” Cadiz said. “[This off-season] he not only had spring training in mind, but had the Classic in mind.”
Claudio plans to play in the World Baseball Classic for Puerto Rico.
“It’s a great honor representing Puerto Rico, to not only be part of the team but be part of a team that will be seen worldwide,” he said.