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Another Day, Another Starting Debut



    Neftali Feliz is not Yu Darvish.

    We've seen him pitch on major league mounds plenty of times, so he doesn't come with the air of mystery that Darvish brought with him to the Rangers this season. It didn't cost millions of dollars just to have a chance to sign him to a contract worth millions of dollars and there's nothing close to the hype that accompanied Darvish's trip to the mound on Monday night.

    That doesn't mean his first start isn't something worth watching, though.

    Yu-phoria has blocked out just about everything else in the Rangers world of late, but let's not forget that Feliz is also making his first major league start against the Mariners on Tuesday night. The intrigue might be at a slightly lower level, although we've actually been waiting for Feliz a lot longer than we waited for Darvish.

    Ever since he arrived in the organization in the Mark Teixeira trade, we've heard about Feliz's potential to be a frontline starter. We heard it while he was closing games en route to the 2009 World Series, we heard it during spring training last season and all that talk sparked some furious debates about the wisdom of placing him back in the closer role last season.

    The debate is over, at least for the next few months, and now we finally get to see what Feliz can do when he's on the mound in the first inning. Given the way C.J. Wilson and Alexi Ogando transitioned to their new roles, there's plenty of reason to believe that Feliz can handle the role.

    It's not every year that you see the defending American League champions give the ball to pitchers making their starting debuts in two of the first five games of the season. It might just wind up being a footnote to the season, but it could also turn out to be a defining part of this team before all is said and done.

    If Feliz and Darvish make good on their advance billing, it's hard to see how the Rangers don't make it back to the postseason this season. As good as the Angels appear to be on paper, the prospect of a very good Rangers team adding two pitchers of that quality makes it hard to imagine a way that they can keep up over the course of 162 games. There's plenty of unknowns, of course, but good pitching is about as solid a plan for baseball success as you can find.