Last week we announced that the Texas Rangers had moved Alexi Ogando to the bullpen then a little later it was confirmed that Neftali Feliz would remain as the team’s closer for 2011. Both pitchers were stretched out this spring and were in contention for a position in the starting rotation; however, neither were given the spot as the need for both guys was in the bullpen – at least for now.
Now, the Rangers have changed their minds. 27-year-old Alexi Ogando has been moved to the starting rotation in order to replace Tommy Hunter, who is going to miss up to six weeks with a groin injury that he suffered last week. Brandon Webb can’t step up and join the rotation as he is nowhere near ready to contribute in a full-fledged game.
If you ask me, I think the Rangers would have rather had Feliz in the starting rotation but the need for him in the bullpen was much greater so they went with Ogando. I’m not saying Ogando isn’t capable of succeeding in a starting role and Feliz is, I just think Feliz performed so well this spring and has experience as a starter unlike Ogando since he was a starter in the Minor Leagues. In fact, Feliz was named as a top prospect for becoming a starting pitcher.
There is still plenty of time for the young 2010 Rookie of the Year to find his time as a starting pitcher though and I think he’ll get his chance to shine sooner rather than later. The Rangers truly need him in the pen right now because what’s the use in having a solid pitcher for the first part of the game if there isn’t someone to come in and make sure the opposing team doesn’t score any runs?
Ogando is currently set to receive his season debut as starter in the fourth game of the 2011 MLB season against the Seattle Mariners on Monday, April 4, 2011. Ogando in the rotation is just temporary though and he’ll move back to the bullpen as soon as Hunter has recovered from his groin injury and is ready to return to the rotation. Ogando will be Feliz’s primary setup man.