By Nicholas Minnix on March 24, 2011
The Texas Rangers decided to keep relief pitcher Neftali Feliz in the closer's role after auditioning him for the starting rotation this spring, according to ESPNDallas.com's Richard Durrett. The rotation is set with starting pitchers C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis, Tommy Hunter, Derek Holland and Matt Harrison. Feliz's new cutter and improved changeup have made his 100 mph fastball more effective this spring.
Texas GM Jon Daniels, along with much of his staff, believes that Feliz's future lies in the rotation. This decision is no doubt based on the fact that the club lacks reliable choices to close if Feliz were a starter. His rotisserie value was clouded in some uncertainty until today. Most fantasy baseball managers were confident that the right-hander would remain in the bullpen, however, and the phenom was still a great bet to earn double-digit dollars as a starting pitcher, anyway. The discount should have been minimal, if there was one.
The announcement doesn't change the 2010 AL ROY's fantasy value much, but it'll allow folks who have yet to draft to bid with more confidence. Feliz's expanding repertoire and comprehension should only aid him in his most familiar big league role. Another season of more than nine K's per nine is a virtual lock; immaculate ratios should accompany that. If the Rangers fall out of contention, don't rule out a shift to the rotation. It's a definite possibility considering Texas' question marks among its starters, including the lack of a true ace, and the injury-prone nature of its most important players on offense.
Holland's shot at reaching some of his upside becomes a touch more secure. More importantly, pitchers like lefties Harrison and Michael Kirkman have better chances to deliver profit; Kirkman was also in the mix for a spot in the starting five. Brandon Webb (shoulder) continues to inspire little faith that he's close to pitching in a major league contest. By the time Scott Feldman (knee) returns, perhaps sometime in May, someone may have pitched his way out of the picture or onto the disabled list.
There's no sense in drafting the promising Alexi Ogando anymore, unless you're in an AL league and hope to capitalize on the righty's middle relief contributions. His strikeout ability (he could post 9.00 K/9 or better, too) make him intriguing.