Will Neftali Feliz be the closer?


It now seems that more than likely Joe Nathan will not rejoin the Texas Rangers in 2014, the question now is who will be the closer?  According to Jon Daniels, the Texas Rangers will more than likely be looking within to replace Nathan.  One reason the Texas Rangers will be promoting from within, is because the Jon Daniels is currently focusing his effort on bringing in more offense to the club,.

May 13, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers starting pitcher Neftali Feliz (30) throws a pitch during the third inning of the game against the Los Angeles Angels at Rangers Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Jon Daniels mentioned 3 possible candidates to replace Nathan.  At this point they are looking at Neftali Feliz, Tanner Scheppers and Joakim Soria.

At the top of the pack is Neftali Feliz.  He is currently playing in the Dominican Winter League for the Toros del Este.

Feliz has pitched well in 3 games he has appeared this season.  Over those 3 games, he has pitched in 3 innings, has an ERA of 0.00, allowed 1 hit, no runs, walks and has recorded 6 strikeouts.  Feliz hasn’t been in a save situation in any of the 3 games.

On Nov 23, he managed to get 2 pop outs and a strikeout.  The Toros went on to win the game, even after allowing 2 runs in the 9th with a final score of 3-2.  On Nov 26, he was able to record 3 strikeouts and allowed a ground ball single in the 8th.  Feliz again did his job, but the Toros fell to the Gigantes 5-3.

This is still good practice for the 25-year-old right-handed pitcher who is trying to get back into form after having Tommy John surgery back in August 2012.

He didn’t pitch much in the regular season for the Texas Rangers.  He only appeared in 6 games in September for a total of 4.2 innings.  For his short season, Feliz had an ERA of 0.00, allowed 5 hits, 2 walks and recorded 4 strikeouts.  Unfortunately for Feliz, he was making his way back from recovery when the Texas Rangers were doing their worst.  Each game Feliz he pitched in, the Rangers lost.

Feliz in my opinion is the front-runner to be the closer in 2014.  He’s a pitcher who features a four seam fastball at 95-99 MPH, curve ball and a change-up.   For those who don’t remember, Neftali was the closer in 2010 and 2011.  When he was the closer in 2011, he  recorded 32 saves out of 38 opportunities with an ERA of 2.74.

There is still plenty of off season baseball left, I would expect Neftali Feliz to get several save opportunities.  Also, I would expect to see him close some games during spring training for the Texas Rangers.