For the 2nd year in a row, the Rangers are attempting to convert their All-Star closer into a 5th starter. Today Neftali Feliz makes his 2nd start of the spring, hoping to build off of his somewhat rocky start from last Friday.
Last year around this time, Texas experimented with Feliz in a starting role, but the job eventually went to Alexi Ogando. It was decided that Neftali was too valuable in the ‘pen, mostly because the organization hadn’t found a suitable replacement for closing duties.
Back then I wrote about Feliz’s possible move to the rotation and pinpointed 5 things that the club needed to be sure of before committing to Nefti as starter.
- Make sure he has the arsenal – As in, more than just a fastball. He experimented with a cutter last spring and spent the winter working on his change-up with Pedro Martinez.
- Make sure he knows when to change gears – He should understand that not every fastball needs to be the fastest fastball that he’s ever thrown. I’m sure that the coaching staff and his catchers will remind him regularly.
- Make sure he’s mentally there – Feliz had all winter to come to terms with his new role in the organization. He should be ready by now.
- Make sure you’re mentally there – Some clubs move relievers into the rotation, but panic after a bad start and move them back to the bullpen. I don’t imagine the Rangers will make this mistake, especially after going through the same transition with Ogando and C.J. Wilson.
- Don’t expect too much too soon – He’s young and he probably needs time to settle into the role. With 3 established starters and Yu Darvish, Feliz should be able to come in somewhat under the radar and, hopefully, he will flourish.
After looking 0ver my list from a year ago, I’m not entirely sure that every one of those points was hit by Opening Day. Now that Jon Daniels has added Joe Nathan as the closer, I believe that everyone is ready for Feliz to show us what he can do. I look forward to it.
Press on, Rangers fans.