March 12, 2014; Camelback Ranch- Texas Rangers pitcher Neftali Feliz might not be the closer. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Camelback Ranch – Most have expected that Neftali Feliz would be the closer for the Texas Rangers this season. He had a very good season in winter ball, but since spring training has starter, he hasn’t been the same.
Feliz started off spring training with weak command and velocity. He has said that has mainly been to a change in delivery due to the Tommy John surgery. Since his first outing, where he was only in the mid-80, he is just now pitching it the low 90s.
Manager’s comments: Ron Washington has expressed his frustrations with Feliz over the past few days. Washington wants to see the same speeds that Feliz was throwing in the Dominican Winter League, which was about 98 MPH. But, speed isn’t the only thing that concerns Washington, it is his command. A closer can be effective with slower velocity, if they have good movement on the ball, but Feliz isn’t getting very much on the ball. In is last outing, Feliz didn’t record any strike outs and mainly got out of the inning off fly balls. Before Tommy John surgery, Feliz had one of the best fastballs and great command which put a lot of movement on the ball.
Looking ahead: Feliz is still the front runner, but Washington has said that the battle isn’t over. He’s not naming a closer just yet. And who could blame him, Feliz hasn’t earned it yet. Feliz will need to compete against Joakim Soria and Tanner Scheppers. Right now, on paper, Soria is at the front of the pack to be the closer. Don’t be surprised if in another week or two Washington says he’ll be the closer.