Neftali Feliz did this for the first time in 2 years
By David Cash
The Texas Rangers left spring training without their former closer Neftali Feliz. Many had figured he would be regain his former position after Joe Nathan took over the spot for 2 years. Instead Neftali Feliz started the regular season with Rangers’ triple-A team the Round Rock Express and Joakim Soria was named the closer.
Since the season hasn’t gone exactly as expected by Jon Daniels, Ron Washington or actually anyone that follows the Texas Rangers. This season the Rangers were sellers at the trade deadline and dealt their closer Joakim Soria to the Detroit Tigers.
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That mean the closer position was again up for grabs and the Rangers gave Neftali Feliz another chance to make his mark. He isn’t the same high-heat pitcher he was back during the 2010 and 2011 season, but he has been able to get his fastball in the mid-90s. According to Fangraphs his average fastball speed has been around 92.9 MPH. As a comparisino he fastball had an average speed of 96.3 MPH. Also, since his return he’s been able to have better command of his fastball and his change up.
Over his last 5 appearances he’s record 6 strikeouts, no walks and no earned runs over 5.0 innings. During the marathon 14 inning game Ron Washington left him in for 2.0 innings in which he managed to keep the game scoreless.
That outing was enough to help the Texas Rangers win it in the 14th with a walk-off walk by Adam Rosales. Even though it wasn’t a save situation for Feliz, he did show a bit of mental strength that many say he didn’t have during the 2011 World Series.
Yesterday against the Los Angeles Angels Neftali Feliz entered the game in another non-save situtation and managed to hold the Angels scoreless off 2-fly balls and a groundout, which was enough to allow the Texas Rangers to tack on 2-runs for the walk-off win. Which earned him his first win since 2012.
Overall this is all good news for Texas Rangers because he’s showing Ron Washington and Jon Daniels he’s their man for next season. For the last month and half of this season Neftali Feliz and several other players on this team are doing their best to earn a spot for next season. Also, if Feliz is able to bounce back and be the closer, then that will leave Tanner Scheppers as a mid-reliever and will allow the front office to focus on finding another power hitter and starting pitcher.