ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 22: Neftali Feliz #30 of the Texas Rangers celebrates after defeating the New York Yankees 6-1 in Game Six of the ALCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 22, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Neftali Feliz
After a couple of years of hinting at the idea that he wanted a shot to be a starter, the Rangers' brass caved last spring and gave Wilson a full audition to be in the starting rotation and he earned his shot, leaving many Rangers fans to just say "oh great" heading into the regular season.
Over the course of the full season, however, he became the Rangers' top starting pitcher as he threw more than 200 innings (almost three times his previous career high), was a 15-game winner and struck out 170 batters with a 3.35 ERA.
Now, the Rangers have an even more dynamic star in their bullpen by the name of Neftali Feliz. He set the MLB rookie save record with 40 and struck out more than a batter per inning. He has an electric fastball with tons of movement, touches triple digits and has a sweet fro.
And Rangers brass, most notably GM Jon Daniels, wants him to be a front-end starting pitcher. They're giving him the same opportunity Wilson had last year with hopes his "addition" can help ease the loss of Cliff Lee in the off-season.
But there's a couple of things wrong with this picture.
Not to say Feliz is never going to be a big-league starter, because he's got tons of upside and started for much of his time in the minors.
But Wilson was nagging and nagging to get his shot at the rotation, and the front office finally gave in and were probably a bit surprised with what they got. Feliz has already gone on record saying he likes closing games out. He doesn't seem to be almost desperate to start like Wilson was.
Not to mention the fact that despite his electric fastball, Feliz doesn't have much in the way of secondary pitches. A great starter needs at least three "plus" pitches. Feliz has one, and on a great day, his slider could possibly qualify.
So give him time, but for now, he needs to remain one of the top closers in the game. And remember, the Rangers won't run him out there as a No. 4 starter. Just as they did with Wilson last spring, they'll put him in the rotation if he shows he can be a top-of-the-rotation guy, and I just don't think he's there yet.