Remember when Neftali Feliz was the AL Rookie of the Year and put up 40 saves in 2010? Yeah, well last year wasn't too shabby either though he had a few minor bumps in the road, but then came the big bump. Feliz blew a save in Game 6 of the World Series that would've given the Texas Rangers the world championship and was said to be a mental mess after the ninth inning of that game.
Now, that's not the reason the Rangers have decided to take the plunge and move Feliz to the starting rotation in 2012. That plan has been in the works since Feliz was in the minor leagues. But you'd have to wonder about the mental stability of Feliz if the Rangers jerked him around and, at some point, moved him back to the bullpen if the starter experiment fails — especially with capable starters like Alexi Ogando and Scott Feldman waiting in the wings should Feliz falter.
At least one national "expert" seems to think Feliz's days as a closer are far from finished as MLB Network/Sirius host Jim Bowden, a former MLB general manager, said he thinks Feliz will have more saves in 2012 than veteran closer Joe Nathan, who the Rangers signed in the offseason to replace Feliz.
There isn't much question that Feliz has the potential to be a fabulous starter in the big leagues with his scorching fastball and lively arm. But there also is no question Feliz must develop more consistency with his secondary pitches as big-league starters with one, even two pitches, usually don't last long. This year, Feliz is the No. 5 starter with the potential to be an ace. Only time will tell if he lives up to that potential. If he doesn't, he could find himself back in the bullpen.