Neftali Feliz: Closer or Poser?
By Ben Dieter
Neftali Feliz is back as the Texas Rangers closer after the team parted ways with Joakim Soria earlier this summer. I can remember a time when Neftali Feliz was an All-Star closer that opposing batters feared, and of course I will always remember him for striking out Alex Rodriguez to end Game 6 of the ALCS in 2010. That Neftali Feliz was nothing but heat, followed by heat with some more heat on the side.
The current addition of Neftali Feliz is a guy that has to pitch to close out games. No more are the days of 100 mile per hour pitches, now Feliz tops out somewhere around 95 for the most part. So is it working, or are the Rangers just wasting their time with him? My personal belief, it is worth it. Neftali Feliz has saved seven games so far in eight attempts, and he will have some more opportunities before this season is over. He is doing it by pitching, using all his pitches, and locating his fastball in uninhabitable places.
The other question is does he have the mindset to be a successful closer anymore? I think he has shown us that he does. He does not look intimidated to me on the mound, something that I thought he looked like when he first started pitching in the majors again earlier this season. Other players who may be up to compete with Neftali Feliz for the closers role are Tanner Scheppers and Corey Knebel, who the Rangers got in the Soria trade.
So will Neftali Feliz be the closer? Only time will tell, but I beleive that he has a good shot to be ready to be the Rangers closer come 2015.