Neftali Feliz made his big league debut last night, and he came with the shock and awe. Feliz was brought in to defend a one-run lead against Oakland in the sixth inning, and struck out the first four batters he faced, flashing a nasty breaking ball and a fastball that reached the triple-digits. Here’s a look at his movement in graph in Pitch F/X.
Reading various scouting reports on Feliz, aside from his fastball and curve, he also throws an 85-87 MPH change-up. The reports say nothing of a sinker, so I wonder if that 90 MPH pitch is mislabeled as a two-seamer and should be categorized as a change-up. No matter. What we are certain of is Feliz pumps in the gas — he threw two pitches over 100 MPH — and he generates an impressive amount tail on his fastball. For a more intuitive look, check out his flight paths.
(You can click on the image for a larger view).
That’s just “whoa” worthy, and what makes it even more “whoa” worthy is that he makes it look so effortless.
The Rangers will work Feliz out of the bullpen for now. They did the same with Derek Holland at first; maybe it’s just their way of breaking in a player, but it’s not as if their rotation couldn’t use the help. Only the Orioles’ rotation has a worse FIP in the American League, as the Rangers’ stellar defense that has masked much of what is a lackluster staff. And it’s not as if Texas has no playoff hopes — they’re three games behind Boston in the wild card race.
Regardless of the Ranger’s early usage, Texas fans have plenty to look forward to with Feliz. If I followed the Rangers, I’d be sending former Braves’ GM John Schuerholz a Christmas card every holiday season for that Teixeira trade.
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