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Ron Washington has used Neftali Feliz in a close game just once all postseason

Oct 29, 2010, 11:19 AM EST

Neftali Feliz

Last night I criticized Ron Washington for allowing a two-run deficit to turn into a blowout loss while closer Neftali Feliz sat in the bullpen unused, but it was far from the first time the Rangers’ manager has failed to get his best reliever into a close game.

In fact, Game 3 of the ALDS versus the Rays is the only time this entire postseason that Washington has actually brought Feliz into a close game.

Seriously.

Here are the circumstances of Feliz’s other four playoff appearances:

• Game 1 of the ALDS: He pitched the ninth inning with a four-run lead.

• Game 2 of the ALCS: He pitched the ninth inning with a five-run lead.

• Game 3 of the ALCS: He pitched the ninth inning with an eight-run lead.

• Game 6 of the ALCS: He pitched the ninth inning with a five-run lead.

Feliz was one of the elite relievers in baseball this season, posting a 2.73 ERA, .176 opponents’ batting average, and 71/18 K/BB ratio in 69 innings. Yet because Washington is focused on managing his bullpen around the save statistic Feliz has pitched in just five games all postseason and four of those appearances came when the Rangers had a lead of at least four runs.

And there have certainly been no shortage of key late-game spots where Washington could have called on Feliz, beginning with the eerily similar eighth-inning bullpen implosions in Game 1 of the ALCS against the Yankees and Game 2 of the World Series last night. In both of those vital situations Feliz went unused and the Rangers let games slip away while Washington turned to just about every other reliever in the bullpen.

Texas has played 14 playoff games and Feliz has faced a grand total of 20 batters, just four of which came in a close game. To put that ridiculous usage into some context, consider that Darren Oliver has faced 32 batters while appearing three more times than Feliz. Heck, even Darren O’Day (19 batters faced) and Alexi Ogando (18 batters faced) have been used nearly as much and in more crucial situations than Feliz.

Instead of doing everything he possibly can to save the Rangers’ season Washington has been more focused on holding his best reliever back for so-called “save” situations that may never arrive.

  1. Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Oct 29, 2010 at 11:30 AM

    A simple cut-and-paste of my previous comment b/c it’s relevant here too:

    If youre down by 2 in the eighth in the W.S. and face going home with a 0-2 deficit, you need to put in your best pitcher to try to keep the deficit at 2 so that your offense has a bit of chance for a comeback. Like Young said, they know how well they can hit. Even if they didn’t hit well last night, they still have the ability to put up 3 runs in an inning easily. Putting up 10 runs in an inning, even for Texas, if nearly impossible. Feliz should have been in there and at least tried to keep the score close. We will never know how the Texas offense would have responded if Feliz came in there and preserved the 2-run differential. Maybe that would have sparked the offense, or maybe they all strike out and go quietly…who knows? But I am sure the morale was below the floor once the 7-spot was put up and their chances went out the window. Lack of hitting was why they were losing, but Washington’s poor management is why they lost.

  2. JBerardi - Oct 29, 2010 at 3:19 PM

    The state of bullpen management in major league baseball continues to be an embarrassment. In other news, dog bites man.

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