Neftali Feliz to Starter: Good Move or Huge Risk?


Last year, the Texas Rangers had an impressive year and some of that was thanks to rookie Neftali Feliz. The Rangers took a chance on the rookie last year as a closer and Feliz became Rookie of the Year while recording 40 saves, which was a Major League record. He had a 2.73 ERA and secured 71 strikeouts in 69 1/3 innings. For the AL pitchers who pitched at least 65 innings, Feliz has the lowest WHIP of all with 0.88 WHIP.

When asked about starting or closing, Feliz was open to either position. If he is asked to join the starting rotation then so be it; otherwise, he’ll continue to close and hope to break the record he set this last year this upcoming 2011 season.

While Feliz could probably handle the added pressure of being a starter for the Rangers, I don’t think that it is likely to happen. In addition, I also believe that Feliz is fine where he is. Last year was his rookie year; he shouldn’t be moved that quickly. He is great at what he does in the position that he currently holds. He is an awesome relief pitcher, probably the best that the Rangers have right now and I don’t think they should jeopardize that by moving Feliz to starting rotation. Plus, this move will be a bit rough due to the recent trade of Frank Francisco to the Blue Jays.

However, should Texas decide to move Neftali to starting rotation, I think he’ll come off a little rough on the edges at first but warm up quickly to the situation and prove to be a very successful starter, more than anyone could ever think possible. Regardless of how I think he would perform as a starter, I still think he should remain the closer for the Rangers – at least for the time being. Those 40 saves last year helped the Rangers get to the World Series and they need to be in that position again in 2011.

All in all, it’s going to come down to what pans out at Spring Training, including the entire bullpen not just how Feliz can perform because he will be competing for a starting position – as of right now. Plus, how Alexi Ogando and Mark Lowe perform throughout Spring Training is also going to be a huge factor in the consideration of moving the 2010 Rookie of the Year to starting rotation.

I’ll leave you with this to ponder: C.J. Wilson. The Rangers made the move with Wilson from reliever to starter last year and look what that did for them. He proved to be a very impressive starter in 2010 with a 3.35 ERA and going 15-8. With that said, is it possible Feliz could be the next Wilson?

What do you guys think? Feel free to provide your input on how you think Feliz would be as a starter or if there is more significance for him being a closer. Share your thoughts here or follow me on Twitter at @nascarstacy14 and don’t forget to like us on Facebook!