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Neftali Feliz Makes Quite the First Impression

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Neftali Feliz Makes Quite the First Impression

AP

On Tuesday night, Neftali Feliz did what Yu Darvish couldn't do on Monday.

Feliz's first major league start could only have gone better if he'd thrown a perfect game or actually made the Mariners disappear instead of just making it seem like they weren't on the field. Seven shutout innings has a way of doing that to a team, especially when their only hits are four painless singles that barely register compared to the slew of overmatched at-bats from Seattle hitters.

Dominating Seattle is nothing new for Feliz. He had never allowed a hit to the Mariners entering Tuesday night's game and he ran the hitless streak to 58 at-bats before Justin Smoak singled in the fourth inning to put a stop to the run. When all was said and done, the Mariners were 4-for-72 without a single run against Feliz in his career.

That begs the question of whether or not Feliz's success in Tuesday night's 1-0 win actually foreshadows a brilliant future as a starter or if it was just a case of the same old story against a bad offensive team. We can't discount Seattle's ineptitude as a major contributing factor, but there was reason to believe that this starting gig suits Feliz well no matter who is trying to hit his pitches.

Chief among them was the way Feliz mixed his pitches. As a closer, Feliz relied on his fastball far more than he did any other pitches. According to Fangraphs, he threw the heater almost 80 percent of the time last season and the biggest question about his move to the rotation was whether or not he'd be able to vary things enough to get through a batting order multiple times.

On Tuesday night, Feliz threw 108 pitches and just 54 of them were fastballs. The rest were a mix of breaking pitches and changeups that, judging from the reactions of the hitters, Seattle didn't think he was able to throw. Some of that was likely thanks to the way Feliz progressed through the order.

He threw fastballs the first time through, went half and half in the second trip and relied heavily on the slower stuff on hitters' first visits. That keeps hitters guessing during the game and it also keeps future hitters guessing as they watch the tape of Feliz displaying the full variety of his wares.

It was, in short, exactly what you'd want to see from a first start.

Related Topics Neftali Feliz, Rangers, Mariners
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