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Posts Tagged ‘Neftali Feliz’

Is Feliz being moved to the rotation because of his blown save in game 6? (Photo: Getty Images)

The Texas Rangers made a surprise move by agreeing to terms with Joe Nathan on a two-year deal worth $15 million in guaranteed money. After making the announcement, the team decided to kill two birds with one stone by also letting it be known that former closer Neftali Feliz will be joining the rotation in 2012.

The pair of moves seems to make sense, especially because free agent C.J. Wilson appears to be on his way out of town. Considering the lack of comparable starters available (and affordable), and the glut of relievers on the market, moving the 24-year old Feliz’ electric arm into the rotation should give the Rangers the best chance to remain competitive in the A.L. West.

But, is that the only reason the Rangers are moving Feliz to the rotation? According to Buster Olney, the lingering effects of Feliz’ blown save in the sixth game of the World Series might also be a factor. In a series of Tweets, Olney expressed sentiments that are probably widely believed throughout the game: young closers who blow big games become damaged goods. So, if the Rangers had any concerns about Feliz’ ability to stare down the barrel of the ninth inning going forward, it would make sense to usher him into the rotation.

History tells us that young closers who blow postseason leads in big moments rarely recover; it’s a good time for TEX to shift Neftali Feliz.” – Buster Olney on Twitter

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Yesterday was a big news day for closers. Unfortunately for the Oakland Athletics, the headliner was Andrew Bailey, who exited his spring outing against the Indians in obvious pain and now has a planned visit with Dr. James Andrews. Another closer who made waves was the Texas Rangers’ Neftali Feliz, but injury wasn’t the culprit. Rather, Feliz gave reporters something to write about when he reversed an earlier decision by stating that he would now prefer to be a starter.

Considering the Rangers’ other starting rotation candidates, it’s probably a good thing Feliz had a change of heart. Cliff Lee’s offseason flight to the Phillies was widely regarded as a blow to the New York Yankees, but in reality, the most significant impact was to the Rangers. Not only does Texas now need to round out three slots in the rotation, but the team must also depend upon the continued resurgence of CJ Wilson and Colby Lewis at the top. In other words, if Feliz returns to being a closer, there might not be many games to save.

Texas Rangers’ 2011 Starting Rotation Candidates

Players ERA IP H R BB K
Neftali Feliz 1.00 9 6 1 4 9
Matt Harrison 1.00 9 5 1 2 5
Eric Hurley 1.00 9 4 1 2 5
Michael Kirkman 3.00 9 7 4 2 8
Colby Lewis 4.00 9 9 5 5 6
CJ Wilson 5.00 9 11 6 3 6
Tommy Hunter 8.31 8 2/3 15 11 1 10
David Bush 4.50 8 9 4 4 5
Derek Holland 1.80 5 5 1 0 6

Source: MLB.com

To the Rangers’ credit, the organization hasn’t tried to pigeon hole their hard throwing right hander into the role of closer just because he recorded 40 saves in his rookie season. On the other hand, it also hasn’t insisted that Feliz set his sights on the rotation just because doing so would satisfy a greater need. Instead, the club’s decision makers have correctly identified both roles as viable options and given proper deference to the right hander’s opinion. The same approach worked with Wilson, so why not try it again?

Your heart has to be in it. It matters what [Feliz] thinks because he is the one who has to do the job. We want him to be committed.” – Ron Washington, quoted by MLB.com

If the Yankees made one mistake in how they handled Joba Chamberlain, it was their failure to effectively communicate with him. Not only did Chamberlain seem to have little input into the role he would perform, but he also seemed to be in the dark regarding the implementation. There were many times when the “Joba Rules” were as much a mystery to the pitcher as the fans and reporters watching in the stands. Although that doesn’t necessarily excuse Chamberlain’s regression, it surely didn’t ease his development. (more…)

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