Feliz Shows no Signs of Slowing Down

By now everyone knows that Neftali Feliz is having an incredible run as a reliever for the Rangers. After last night’s two inning four strikeout performance he has racked up 26 strikeouts to just one walk over 19 and two thirds innings.

For Feliz it starts with his blazing fastball that averages over 96 mph and is regularly in triple digits. But unlike another triple digit flame thrower he can locate the pitch in the strike zone. He throws it early in the count, when he is behind (which is rare), and at times with two strikes up in the zone as a strike out pitch. Here I plot the fastballs with the swinging strikes outlined in black and called strikes opaque.


Again he is always around the zone (amazing for how hard he is throwing the ball). If he misses it is rarely by much, expect for up (and those are mostly when he is ahead in the count). The swinging strikes are, as expected, mostly on pitches up in the zone. While the called strikes are for the the most part on the outer half of the plate.

Feliz also throws a changeup and curve. He uses both generally later in the count, the curve more to RHBs and change more to LHBs.


You can see that curve has been death to righties. Tons of called strikes in the down-and-away corner of the zone, and tons of swing strikes outside of the zone. To lefties he has kept the change either far away or very low in the zone.

Just an incredible month-long dominance, striking out 26 and only walking one batter.

Print This Post

Dave Allen's other baseball work can be found at Baseball Analysts.

25 Responses to “Feliz Shows no Signs of Slowing Down”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
  1. Steve C says:

    You should stop posting articles like this, you keep making Atlanta fans cry.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. mrreggie says:

    Buster Posey was just called up.

    Quick FanGraphs! To the article machine! I wanna hear how this is going to affect the wild card race!

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. Efrim says:

    As a Braves fan, it’s very difficult to read things like this. This only supports that the Braves scouting and player development is top notch, right?

    (trying to look for a silver linging here)

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. Ed Nelson says:

    It’s amazing to see him pitch. What kills me is the arm motion has no hitches to it and looks completely effortless. If he can be a starter, and not break down, Texas will be a very scary team.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. Daddymag says:

    @ Ed – True, the first time I saw him I was shocked to see how easily he slings it. Very smooth motion.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. AngMohClay says:

    Maybe I’m misunderstanding your graphs, but there appear to be a large number of FBs right in the middle of the zone that were not called (or swinging) strikes, which is pretty weird.

    You expect some to be missed, but not that many.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. Matt B, says:

    I guess it goes without saying he likely won’t be able to sustain (especially as a starter) his current BABIP (.120), strand rate (100), LD rate (2.6%), and HR/FB (4.5%) !!

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Matthew says:

      i think he will be able to contain the HR/FB rate

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Matt B, says:

        Agreed. Minus season to season fluctuation, luck etc. He has done a decent job of keeping it in the park in his pro career.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • blalock says:

        i would say he’s done more than a decent job of keeping the ball in the yard… he’s given up, what? 6 HRs in his entire career? Thats pretty amazing really

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. lincolndude says:

    He has been amazing so far, there’s no doubt about it. But he’s getting significantly higher swing rates and lower contact rates than average for his out of the zone stuff. And he’s hit outside of the zone more than average.

    A 26/1 ratio for K/BB to start the career is impressive, but as he continues to make the rounds, batters are going to swing less.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. lincolndude says:

    Also, he’s never showed anything remotely close to this level of control in the minors. It might be interesting to look at his minor league game log from this year (not sure where to find this) and see if his control suddenly improved when he switched to relieving.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • t ball says:

      His control had improved the last couple of months in Oklahoma, even before they moved him to the bullpen in preparation for the callup. But, obviously what he’s doing now is, uh, just a bit unprecedented.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. Kampfer says:

    his control seems too good to be true for me

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  11. David J says:

    Does anyone know if he uses a windup ever? He hasn’t shown it in the bigs yet.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  12. Joe R says:

    Look on the brightside Braves fans, you still have Tommy Hanson at least.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  13. Texas_Dawg says:

    Another 2.1, 0 H, 0 BB, 2 K against Baltimore tonight.

    22.0 IP, 28 Ks, 1 B, 0.41 ERA, 0.27 WHIP.

    Is that the best first 22 innings of an MLB career ever?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  14. Rebels of OAK says:

    I know he is highly touted and his fastball has been dominant. This article seems to argue that his secondary stuff is also effective but he threw the fastball over 70% of the time at the major league level this season. Is his curve/change really effective? Or is it only effective in small doses when off-set with a nearly 100 MPH fastball?

    I ask in regard to next year. He can’t throw 70% fastballs as a starter in the majors, even it is 96+. Does he have the necessary secondary pitches to really be a dominant starter?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Eric Cioe says:

      I was just browsing through old articles on fangraphs, and saw this comment: “He can’t throw 70% fastballs as a starter in the majors, even if it is 96+.”

      Well, why not? Here’s a list of guys who did just that in 2009:

      Porcello, Niemann, Kershaw, Garza, Scherzer. Right behind those guys at around 68%: Verlander, Johnson.

      With a good fastball, throwing 70% of the time is not only possible, but probably smart.

      Vote -1 Vote +1