Rangers Keep Neftali Feliz In The Bullpen

The Rangers will open the season with a rotation of C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis, Tommy Hunter, Derek Holland and Matt Harrison and Neftali Feliz will return to the bullpen after an extended spring stint as a starter, according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan (on Twitter). The decision provides manager Ron Washington with the proven closer he sought and lessens the chances that the Rangers have to look outside of the organization for relief help.

The Rangers considered moving Feliz to the rotation because of his potential to be a shutdown starter. He won last year's AL Rookie of the Year as the Rangers' closer, saving 40 games and posting a 2.73 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in 69 1/3 innings. Last week, 55% of 6,681 MLBTR readers said they would return the 22-year-old to the bullpen.

120 Responses to Rangers Keep Neftali Feliz In The Bullpen Leave a Reply

  1. notsureifsrs 4 years ago


    • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

      this is a good move..

      I mean, how awesome of a reliever would Jon Lester be?

      This is going to start a trend throughout baseball.

      • Infield Fly 4 years ago

        You ARE smarter than us! (…and more drunk) :p

        GO JAYS!!

        • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

          I’m not sure about the first one!

          • Infield Fly 4 years ago

            [As a fellow Jays fan] I’ll just look the other way and pretend I don’t notice 😀

          • Encarnacion's Parrot 4 years ago

            You forgot the ‘Go Jays!’ segment to make your first comment complete :)

      • Willy Grover 4 years ago

        it would actually suck. Jon lester would go from a 6 win a year to a 3 win a year player like that

  2. Encarnacion's Parrot 4 years ago

    Not very surprising, and probably for the best. You don’t mess with something that works.

    • $1529282 4 years ago

      Yeah, it’s a good thing the Rays kept David Price in the bullpen and that the Cardinals kept Wainwright back there too. Both were big-time prospects with the stuff to be frontline starters, but let’s be honest, why risk getting 200+ great innings from them when they’ve already proven they can give 60 in a limited role?

      Sound logic by the Rangers on this one. Truly a great decision.

      • Encarnacion's Parrot 4 years ago

        Yep. That Joba Chamberlain decision was a great one too.

        Don’t sound off like it doesn’t go both ways, champ.

        • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

          difference is they gave Joba a chance to see if he could stick..

          • Encarnacion's Parrot 4 years ago

            True, but my point is now that he’s back in the pen, he’s just as screwed up as he was when starting. He doesn’t miss bats at the pace he was, and doesn’t produce nearly as many ground balls, not to take away him being a huge FIP lagger.

          • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

            if you connected 2008 to 2010, you’d see standard reliever volatility. his k/bb was actually up from 2008, he just gave up a few more HRs and stranded runners at a lower rate

            maybe give it more than 70 innings before concluding he’s screwed up

          • Encarnacion's Parrot 4 years ago

            Ehh.. not to say you’re wrong because for the most part you are correct, in response to your k/bb portion of the argument, that’s kind of like saying Carlos Marmol must be average because he only had a 2.65 k/bb in 2010.

            Walks went down, missed bats went down even more, WHIP went up a measily 0.04, but it’s still valid.

            My error was comparing his 2008 fWAR to his 2010 and not realizing that he made 12 starts in ’08, which, correct me if I’m wrong, does raise a pitchers WAR value.

          • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

            right, k/bb wasn’t the focus of the argument. i mentioned it in to make clear that he didn’t fall off a cliff by any stretch – the change was largely in the HR/strand depts

            you’re right that his swstr was also down from 2008 (up from 2009, though), but it’s not a sure thing that it would have stayed at 11% if he had stayed a reliever. it’s a 100 inning sample — some of which were innings as a starter — followed by a 70 inning sample. volatility is the name of the reliever game, and he’s got a short career behind him

            you’re right about WAR, and you may even be right that joba’s pitching was set back by being tried as a starter. but i don’t think we have any date to demonstrate that convincingly yet

            not to mention that i think nyy should have kept him a starter anyway

          • Encarnacion's Parrot 4 years ago

            you’re right that his swstr was also down from 2008 (up from 2009, though)

            And in 2009 he was a starter for the entire season! I can’t knock on a pitcher who hasn’t even been fully tested as a starter yet [Feliz], but Chamberlain had a full season and was average at best. If he’s in the pen for all of 2011, his stats should reflect closer to 2008 than 2010.

          • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

            it’s really hard with a young player. how much of it was some inability of his to pitch as a starter and how much was the league adjusting to him, right? it’s not far-fetched to think that in only his second year, guys getting their second and third and fourth ABs against him (and all the scouting material on him increasing in quantity and quality) will fare better than when he first came up and blew everyone away

            joba was rushed to the bigs because he was striking everyone out everywhere. and when he got to the bigs, he kept missing bats. but it would be pretty naive to think he could keep up at that pace, even as a reliever. it’s extremely rare

            all i’m battling back against here is the idea that trying joba as a starter than “ruined” him. there was an obvious opportunity cost, but none of the data suggests very strongly to me that pitching as a starter set him back. he was a starter in the minors and took less than a full season off from that role

            i understand the argument that nyy mishandled him and messed with his confidence. so you could say that the experiment set him back. but that seems like a “this is what happens when you manage a player poorly” issue and not a “this is what happens when you let a reliever start” issue

          • jwsox 4 years ago

            dont forget about joba he was messed with to an extreme extent. innings limit, pull him when he shows one sign of struggling and not lettting him work it out, moved to the pen, moved back to rotation, moved to set up, moved to long duty. when someone is moved around that much in a short amount of time like joba was its going to mess with you. This season will be a sign for him he knows for a fact he is the 7th inning guy

          • LifeLongYankeeFan 4 years ago

            As a 4 or 5 starter Joba is alright but he’s not a top of the line starter.

          • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

            you are basing that on 150 AL East innings – one season

          • jwsox 4 years ago

            you have to admit that 150 innings in the al east is like 250+ in the AL west, central, NL west and central and maybe the NL east

          • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

            that’s a credit to joba, not a knock. the sample is still not large enough to write him off as a quality starter

          • LifeLongYankeeFan 4 years ago

            Yeah that’s a good point. Not sure if he has a changeup or not but if he does and he can throw a 93-94 mph fastball, with that slider he has and throw in a curve and I could see him being a 2 or 3 starter.

      • Guest 4 years ago

        Yep… because those 5 games Price pitched as a long reliever are equivalent to being one of the best closers in the league for a season.
        (yes, yes, I know, he also played in the playoffs)

    • Willy Grover 4 years ago

      unless it makes it better. Oil “works,” but renewable energy is better. If you just leave things the way they are, we would be in the stone age

  3. start_wearing_purple
    start_wearing_purple 4 years ago

    Makes sense. If they were serious about making Feliz a starter then they would have been focusing him on that all winter and they would have kept Francisco.

    I still think he’s better off for the Rangers as a starter, but suddenly pushing him into that role with no real back up closer is just asking for trouble.

    • Probably. Then again, Alexi Ogando, Darren O’Day, and Darren Oliver were all lights-out last year, and Mark Lowe has shown signs of closer stuff before when he hasn’t been injured. Texas may have figured they’d be in good shape even without Francisco and Feliz in the pen. I suspect if Lowe hadn’t been so awful this spring, the Feliz decision might have gone the other way.

  4. VegasANGELSFan 4 years ago

    It also leaves them with a pretty horrific group of starters. Good luck with all that. Back to the old Rangers, lots of offense and no pitching (though their defense is actually pretty good these days).

    • start_wearing_purple
      start_wearing_purple 4 years ago

      Eh, their rotation has major questions. But they’re far from horrific. Their offense still could get them into the playoffs.

      • VegasANGELSFan 4 years ago

        Yea, that is definitely true. It is a very strong offense (IF the injury prone Kinsler, Cruz, and Hamilton can stay healthy). Plus as I noted above, they have a good defense as well. I’m just not a fan of the starters, that’s all I am saying.

        • MaineSox 4 years ago

          Props for not bringing “contract year” Beltre into it.

          • VegasANGELSFan 4 years ago

            Haha. It didn’t seem relevant to the conversation, but good point :p I was glad the Angels didn’t give Beltre that contract, then immediately wished they would have given Beltre or Crawford the contracts they got instead of doing the Wells trade :/ I keep sending Reagins and the Angels’ brass emails, but they continue to ignore my advice. Terrible Angels’ moves have been discussed at length in many a thread this offseason though, so I will leave it at that.

    • do you realize the Rangers had a better record before the all star break last year? (which was w/o Cliff) You sound like Lance Berkman!!! This is a DAMN good pitching staff.

      • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

        that doesn’t prove what you think it proves

      • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

        you do realize of course that the Rangers success isn’t soley based on their team? That other factors exist like competition?

        Oakland A’s are greatly improved, Angels should have a better year.. They added a 22 million dollar a year outfielder.

        • MB923 4 years ago

          Unfortunately it was the wrong $22 million a year outfielder.

          • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

            finally someone acknowledged my sarcasm!

  5. That’s an awfully thin, inexperienced rotation for the defending AL champs. I like Derek Holland, but Tommy Hunter will drop off massively this year (4.8 K/9 doesn’t bode well), and Matt Harrison (5.3 K/9, 4.5 BB/9) will have to get much better to stick in the rotation. They have to be working on a deal for an established starter. Young for either Blanton or Nolasco, perhaps?

  6. andrewyf 4 years ago

    I can’t wait for Oakland to win the AL West this year. And people wonder why the East teams get all the coverage: almost all the other teams are terribly run.

    • start_wearing_purple
      start_wearing_purple 4 years ago

      Wow… I think this is the first time we agree. Who’d have thunk it?

    • Rockiesfan4ever 4 years ago

      The non-East teams get all the coverage??? Say what?

      • andrewyf 4 years ago

        Yeah, I messed up my wording. It’s fixed now.

        • Rockiesfan4ever 4 years ago

          Ahh ok makes more sense now lol. I was gonna argue with you about that all day

        • TheHotCorner 4 years ago

          Phew…for a second I was thinking, “What the F. Non-East teams get coverage? Where?”. Makes sense now.

  7. Scott Feldman is returning midseason, correct?

  8. Ethanator99 4 years ago

    Dumb idea. This also doesn’t bode welll for my boy Chapman

    • timmytwoshoezzz 4 years ago

      Agreed. Pitching Chapman from the pen, when he should be working on starting at AAA, is one of the Reds FO few major blunders in recent memory. This coming from a Reds fan

      • grownice 4 years ago

        Thats why they should have let the Jays Grab him! DANGIT!!!

  9. Lunchbox45 4 years ago

    Losing the lead in 9th inning is unacceptable… not having the lead before then, is tolerated.


  10. Joshua William Novy I 4 years ago

    I actually don’t mind this non-move. Hes still incredibly young so when the trade deadline comes around and RPs come available they can bring one in and move him then to the rotation. By the time the playoffs come he’ll be able to throw 8 innings no problem. I’m okay with this gamble.

    • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

      umm no

      if he starts the year as a reliever they won’t be able to switch courses mid year to have him go 8 innings for the playoffs

      • rayking 4 years ago

        Are you sure? I think Feliz could close until the trade deadline; then the Rangers pick up a closer at the deadline and have Feliz start every game the rest of the season. Just keep that shoulder iced down!


  11. It could be a good thing.. No one in TX has their hopes up for it. Webb could also be a good thing…

  12. rbeezy 4 years ago

    Feliz can be a shutdown type of starter, something they don’t have currently. I think the A’s may have a better shot then most people think.

  13. woadude 4 years ago

    Seriously, I told you they would keep him as the closer, I used Papelbon as an example but this is one of those things that work out well, I am sure next year they will take a better look at him, but Feliz is a closer and with Feliz closing, you all should be Happy like his name translates from spanish :)

  14. Rockiesfan4ever 4 years ago

    Finding 4th or 5th SP aren’t that hard to do but finding an elite closer like Neftali is truely something special. This is the right move for them

    • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

      Why do you assume that Feliz is nothing more than a 4th or 5th starter.. If he developed in to a legitimate elite starter, where are you going to pick up one of those without giving up half the farm (again)

      • Rockiesfan4ever 4 years ago

        Because as his FIRST SEASON as a starter they wouldn’t want to throw him out there for 200+ innings and be a workhorse. He wouldn’t be someone to carry a rotation. He may have DEVELOPED into an Ace but you never know a). about the people who are taking his spots in the rotation and b). how quickly that would have happened.

        • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

          While your IP limit arguement is legitimate, having him give you 175 IP of 3.5 era ball is sill more valuable than 60 IP of 2.5 era ball with 40 saves..

          CJ Wilson became your ace in his first year out of the pen.. and gave you 200 innings as well

          • Rockiesfan4ever 4 years ago

            But you have to compare who else they would get to replace him in the other roles. If you are getting 60+ IP of 2.50 ERA and 40 saves while your other starter gives you 150+ IP of 3.75 ERA then I’d definitely say that Neftali in the pen is more valuable. Vice Versa; if you get 175+ IP of 3.50 ERA out of Neftali as a starter but your bullpen blows 20+ games then you needed Feliz back there

          • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

            there are lots of problems here i don’t feel like explaining, but i’ll mention this one: feliz didn’t even give you 2.5 ERA ball last year. which was his first and only year, btw

            a really widespread assumption is that because he was good last year, he’ll always be awesome as a closer. despite that being the most volatile position in baseball

            in 30 2009 innings, feliz posted an ERA of 1.7 and a FIP of 2.5. his BABIP was .169

            in 70 2010 innings his BABIP increased 55 points to a still-low .224. his ERA was 2.7 and his FIP was 3

            in 70 2011 innings, what will happen if his BABIP returns to league average, or even just below (avg is around .300)? what if he gives up a couple more homeruns in arlington? what if he just has a few bad games?

            relievers are extremely volatile. it may not be a given that he’d be a stud starter, but it also isn’t a given that he’s a star closer. treating the second one as if it is a given will lead to mistakes in your analysis

          • MaineSox 4 years ago

            “a really widespread assumption is that because he was good last year, he’ll always be awesome as a closer”

            You’ve got no idea what you’re talking about.

            -John Papelbon

          • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

            that really is a bunch of crap

            -b. lidge

          • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

            I don’t think I belong in this conversation to begin with


          • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

            keep your head up bro. haters gonna hate

            -b. fuentes

          • grownice 4 years ago

            Anyone remember me?

            B.J Ryan

          • Encarnacion's Parrot 4 years ago

            *looks at V-Tek*

            after running out to the mound, i think i need a dozen jelly donuts and a nap.

            -bobby jenks

          • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

            not funny

            -g. sherrill

          • MaineSox 4 years ago

            Quite whining

            – D. Turnbow

          • Brad426 4 years ago

            F all of you guys.

            -John Rocker

          • MaineSox 4 years ago

            Needs more racial slurs to be believable…

          • I hate Joe Torre

            -J. Broxton

  15. TheHotCorner 4 years ago

    I would have really liked to see what he could have done as a starter. Oh well, guess I can always hope next year.

  16. I don,t like that decision;if Felix is in the rotation they have more public.

    • Rockiesfan4ever 4 years ago

      You have to weigh publicity versus actual effectiveness and winning games tho

  17. Guest 4 years ago

    Feliz was arguably their best pitcher this spring. Why you insist on using arguably your best pitcher in the bullpen is beyond me. I hate this move, hope it works out for the best though

    I really, really, really hope Derek Holland has a breakout year this year. But since the Rangers seem to have a massive crush on Matt Harrison and Tommy Hunter, I’m sure Holland will get sent back to AAA when Webb comes back. Why stick your top prospects in the rotation when you can stick a bunch of crappier pitchers in their place instead? Or use them in the bullpen for an inning at time

    UGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. Sry guys, I needed to vent

  18. Lunchbox45 4 years ago

    I find this decision even more confusing when you take a look at Cj wilson, who had a fine year in the pen in 2009, they moved him in to the rotation and he was their best starter all year long…

    So if the only difference as to why CJ Wilson was moved to the rotation and Feliz is not is because Feliz had 40 saves and Wilson only had 14…

    Well thats just idiotic now isn’t it.

    • Rockiesfan4ever 4 years ago

      (Yes it’s me dissenting again). While Im not a big expert on the Rangers’ bullpen and C.J. Wilson but you have to look at his stuff and the ability rather than just the stats

      • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

        So you’re argument then is,

        CJ wilson, awesome in the pen awesome in the rotation.
        Feliz, awesome in the pen, not awesome in the rotation.

        Doesn’t make all that much sense.

      • notsureifsrs 4 years ago


        as a reliever in 2009, wilson had two good pitches: a fastball (+7.5) and a slider (+1.0). he threw the FB 70% of the time and the slider 18.5%. a cutter and a change each were used around 5%

        as a reliever in 2010, feliz had to good pitches – a fastball (+19.3) and a curveball (+4.1). he threw the FB 82% of the time and the curveball 14%. a change was thrown about 4% of the time

        feliz now has a cutter in addition to his change. so what am i missing? is wilson scrappy?

  19. FrankTheFunkasaurusRex 4 years ago

    what did it say?

  20. YankeePhan1234 4 years ago

    Good, this is where he should be, you don’t take a Rookie of the Year winner with 40 saves out of that spot. Keep him there and he won’t become Joba 2.0

  21. notsureifsrs 4 years ago

    that only makes sense if the rotation could be fixed mid-season when it breaks. it can’t be

    feliz could have been moved back to the bullpen mid-season. he can’t easily be moved from the bullpen to the rotation

  22. Rockiesfan4ever 4 years ago

    Finding a starter mid-season is a lot easier than finding a closer mid-season tho. Especially a closer who is shut down like Neftali

  23. notsureifsrs 4 years ago

    you know who else only has two plus pitches? most starters

    one doesn’t need three plus pitches to be effective, or even dominant. his change and his cutter are already throwable, but they won’t improve much in 70 innings of relief work

  24. Lunchbox45 4 years ago

    if by a lot easier you mean a lot more expensive in prospects. then yes you are correct

  25. notsureifsrs 4 years ago

    no. the opposite of that

  26. Rockiesfan4ever 4 years ago

    No because you aren’t going out to grab an Ace for your rotation mid-season. No way they would have Neftali be the ace of their staff in his first year. They’d be going out and grabbing a 4th or 5th SP

  27. Lunchbox45 4 years ago

    so explain to me why its a good move then smart guy?

  28. notsureifsrs 4 years ago

    “People say he’s the ace of the Rangers future, then he’s going to need 3 plus pitchers to be an ace … why cause Feliz to lose confidence when he’ll be a bonafide ace next year with a little more experience? ”

    he will develop those extra plus pitches in the pen? over the winter? stop it. he needs to pitch as a starter to get better at pitching as a starter

    plenty of frontline starters have only two plus pitches btw. he could have been effective this year and who knows how much more effective next year. instead your hopes are hung on c.j. wilson’s .266 BABIP & 5.3 % HR/FB%, colby lewis, derek holland tommy hunter and matt harrison

    i like the rangers a lot, but you better cross your fingers

  29. Cole Hamels was the ace of a world series staff with two pitches. You need two plus pitches and an average pitch to be a good starter. Being an ACE isn’t stuff, it’s a mentality.

    As long as the third/fourth pitch are average he would be fine.

  30. jwsox 4 years ago

    “Most starting pitchers don’t. But aces do” Not really true. Halladay is probably the only ace out there that has 3 plus pitches. Lincecum works with a Plus Plus changeup and a Plus fast ball with good secondary pitches. CC Has the fast ball circle change and a good slider but not a plus plus pitch. Johan(when healthy) is a cricle change slider. Greinke is a slider fast ball pitcher. Felix is changeup and fast ball as plus pitches with good curve and slider….Carpenter has the killer curve and a good fastball. If Feliz already has 2 plus pitches and a good change up also thats all he really needs

  31. notsureifsrs 4 years ago

    the imprecision of those statistics is going to reveal itself to you in a very unpleasant way this season

  32. VegasANGELSFan 4 years ago

    IF you think that Wilson and Lewis both can pitch as well as last year (which is a big if in my mind), then you have two good starters. If either (or both) of those guys regress as I expect, that staff is in for a world of hurt imo.

  33. notsureifsrs 4 years ago

    tommy hunter of 5 FIP and .255 BABIP, 80% LOB fame?

  34. notsureifsrs 4 years ago

    the stats on the rangers starting 5 are not encouraging

  35. notsureifsrs 4 years ago

    it’s funny because unless you have season tickets i probably went to more rangers games than you last year

    the point of this isn’t to diss texas; i’m just talking baseball here. the stats you’re using have very low predictive value, and you’re trying to use them to predict the upcoming season

  36. MaineSox 4 years ago

    Over/Under: 2 hours before Ken’s comment gets deleted

  37. FrankTheFunkasaurusRex 4 years ago

    because he’s a mariners fan

  38. notsureifsrs 4 years ago

    this concludes talky time. now let’s practice our ABCs

  39. notsureifsrs 4 years ago

    “All stats are the same when trying to predict the future”

    flat wrong

  40. Lunchbox45 4 years ago

    You’re assuming that being as good as last year will be enough this year.

  41. MaineSox 4 years ago

    They won 90 last year, based on that I predict they win between 89-91 this year.

  42. notsureifsrs 4 years ago

    oh god i want to see that comment and its attachment so many more times in the future


  43. Lunchbox45 4 years ago


  44. MaineSox 4 years ago

    Why in the world did it get deleted??

  45. WHAT WAS IT?! NOOOO! Cant see it!!!

  46. jwsox 4 years ago

    Don’t make fun of someone over spelling, I’m assuming that’s what this “now let’s practice our ABCs” means, when your grammar is nothing to write home about. “This concludes talky time, now let’s practice our ABC’s”

  47. FrankTheFunkasaurusRex 4 years ago

    Murray Chass is that you?

  48. That Texas luck will run out sooner or later. When it does it shall be HILARIOUS.

  49. notsureifsrs 4 years ago

    deriding his thinking level, not his spelling

    my grammar is impeccable btw. you just haven’t thought through the utility of capitalization & punctuation

  50. Lunchbox45 4 years ago

    very well done sir.

  51. Lunchbox45 4 years ago

    I’m not sure :S

    Is there a ban on charlie sheen images?

  52. MaineSox 4 years ago

    Must be, and generally I would support one (sick of him) but that was too perfect.

  53. leberquesgue 4 years ago

    There is a study I have heard quoted several times, which apparently demonstrated that weather forecasters would do better if they simply said that tomorrow’s weather would be the same as today’s, rather than rely on their models. I think this was a while ago, and is probably no longer true, but it is a cautionary tale worth considering.

  54. Lunchbox45 4 years ago

    how does apply to baseball? A’s improved, angels we’re off last year, those are factors that will dictate the rangers success.

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