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Neftali Feliz, 2014 Texas Rangers
Neftali Feliz has been one of the most depressing Texas Rangers stories in recent memory.
The former AL Rookie of the Year and rookie saves record holder turned promising starter quickly became a Tommy John victim and a mental case after falling a strike short of a World Series title in 2011.
Ever since his surgery in 2012, Feliz has been trying to become a viable part of the Rangers' pitching staff again, back in the bullpen as a late-inning shutdown reliever. He was even basically gifted the closer's job in spring training this year before being outperformed by Joakim Soria and was left off the Opening Day roster.
Since then, it's been more bad for Feliz in Round Rock, as he was shut down for general fatigue and appeared lost forever.
Now, he's starting to get it back, at least that's what his recent outings have shown.
Feliz put up his third straight good outing for Triple-A Round Rock on Sunday, putting up two hitless, shutout innings. In his last three outings, he's allowed one hit and one walk, and nothing else. Prior to that, he went a week which saw him allow four homers over three outings while relying too heavily on his subpar secondary stuff instead of trusting his fastball, which is getting back to the electric status we all remember.
“He’s just changed to a more aggressive approach,” Round Rock pitching coach Brad Holman told The Dallas Morning News.
As Evan Grant pointed out, the only thing that might be holding Feliz in Triple-A now is the fact that all of the Rangers' relievers are out of options, all except for Allen native Shawn Tolleson, who's been great and has a string of 11 1/3 scoreless innings working at the moment.
This isn't all bad. Let Feliz continue to regain confidence in Round Rock and just wait for the cards to fall, because as we've seen this year, they will. Then, if all goes well, you have yourself an elite reliever to add to a bullpen that's been surprisingly good this year.