Remember last season? If a game made it to the ninth inning with the lead, there were no concerns. Neftali Feliz was solid; even if the rest of the staff had their ups and downs he was consistent. Early this morning the Rangers lost the game in 14 innings, 12-7 to the Kansas City Royals.
All of the offense for the Rangers came in the first two innings. At the end of two – the Rangers led 7 to 6. This was all the Rangers should have needed. The game was scoreless going into the ninth inning and this game should have been locked up.
Instead Feliz allowed a home run to Alex Gordon (KC’s Ranger Killer) to tie the game. Manager Ron Washington was forced to use every member of his bullpen in this game due to Feliz’s performance. The bullpen held up well until the top of the 14th inning. Dave Bush allowed five runs on four hits and a walk and the game was over. — Analysis on Feliz after the jump —
It’s time to start examining what Nefty is doing wrong, are his mechanics any different from last season? Is his preparation any different knowing he was the closer this season? Did the young pitcher take for granted that he didn’t really have to compete for the job? It’s also possible he is still hurt from his stint on the disabled list earlier this season.
Pitch selection also must have something to do with this. Feliz threw 15 pitches in that last inning of the game and all of them but one were fastballs. The speed on the fastball was from 95 to 99mph, and they were located well enough. However…if you get punched in the stomach long enough, at some point you may be able to defend it. This was the case with Alex Gordon; he saw four fastballs before knocking the fifth one out of the park.
It’s also important to add here that the one pitch he threw that wasn’t a fireball, was an 81mph slider to force Eric Hosmer to fly out. This may be the answer, Feliz must be confident in his other pitches so he doesn’t get burned. Whatever the case is, we need our closer from last year back.