Could the Rangers Reunite With Their Former Closer?

The Milwaukee Brewers release Neftali Feliz, making him a free agent

The bullpen continues to be a sore spot for the Rangers this season.

Texas staged a comeback against the Toronto Blue Jays to take a 6-5 lead into the ninth inning. However, Matt Bush wasn’t able to close the door as the Jays scored two runs in the final frame to retake the lead. The Jays get the 7-6 win and the Rangers are tagged with their the 13th blown save of the season.

The closer role on this team continues to get interesting. Bush took over after the Rangers cut ties with Sam Dyson due to his struggles. The problem for Bush on Monday night was how he went away from his money pitch, the fastball. The Jays cashed in and walked away the winner. Bush is now 8 of 11 in save opportunities.

So, while closing the game remains inconsistent, could the Rangers take a chance on a blast from the past?

Earlier in the evening, news came out that Neftali Feliz was released by the Milwaukee Brewers. The former Rangers closer is now free to sign anywhere for the pro-rated portion of the league minimum for any time spent in the majors. It sounds crazy but the Rangers do have a history of taking a flier on guys that could fill a void.

Feliz was on the mound for some of the biggest moments in franchise history. He struck out Alex Rodriguez in Game 6 of the 2010 American League Championship Series to put away the Yankees and help send the Rangers to their first-ever World Series. Feliz was named the A.L. Rookie of the Year that season.

He was also on the mound when the Cardinals made their comeback in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series. Feliz gave up that two-run triple to David Freese, who would later homer in the 11th off Mark Lowe to give the Cardinals the 10-9 win. The Rangers never recovered, losing Game 7 and the World Series for the second straight year.

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Feliz was a starter in the minors and made the pitch to return to the starting role. He got the chance when the Rangers signed Joe Nathan during the offseason in 2012. The experiment didn’t last long as Feliz would sprain his UCL in May and later undergo Tommy John surgery. He would start the 2013 season on the disabled list and was only able to pitch in a couple of games that season. Feliz was then traded to the Detroit Tigers the following season.

Since then he’s bounced around with the Tigers, Pirates and Brewers. Feliz never really seem to regain the stuff he had when he was throwing the pill for the Rangers. Makes you wonder if he should have stayed a closer instead of trying to jump into the starting rotation.

It could be worth the time for the Rangers to bring in Feliz and see what he’s got. Josh Hamilton didn’t leave on the best of terms but the outfielder was brought back by the Rangers with open arms. First baseman Mike Napoli has left Arlington twice and returned both times. Both were on the 2011 World Series team with Feliz.

The righty is only 29 and may still have something left in the tank if the arm is serviceable. The trio of Keone Kela in the seventh, Bush in the eighth and Feliz, if healthy and completely back to 2010 form, in the ninth could be something nasty for opposing hitters late in the game.

Granted, Feliz also had a history of making the ninth inning interesting during his time in Arlington but a second chance could be a win-win for both sides.

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