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Neftali Feliz is the favorite to close for the Rangers

Dec 28, 2013, 1:30 PM EDT

Neftali Feliz Getty Getty Images

Tanner Scheppers has expressed his interest in replacing Joe Nathan as the Rangers’ closer in 2014, but T.R. Sullivan of pegs Neftali Feliz as the favorite to return to his former role:

Joe Nathan is now with the Tigers and the Rangers will have a new closer in 2014. They will likely settle the issue by going back to the old closer. Neftali Feliz had the job during the World Series years of 2010-11 before being derailed by Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery.

Feliz appears to be healthy again, which puts him in position to be the Rangers’ closer coming out of Spring Training. If Feliz is not ready, the Rangers could turn to premier setup reliever Tanner Scheppers or former Royals All-Star closer Joakim Soria. All are potentially good options but right now the job is Feliz’s to lose.

Feliz began his major league career as a reliever and notched 72 saves in the closer role from 2010-2011, but the Rangers moved him to the rotation in 2012. However, the experiment quickly backfired, as he made just seven starts and one relief appearance prior to blowing out his elbow and undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery. The 25-year-old right-hander spent most of 2013 in rehab mode, eventually tossing 4 1/3 scoreless innings as a September call-up. It sounds like the Rangers have moved on from the idea of using Feliz as a starter, but assuming his velocity bounces back, he would be a logical and cost-effective replacement for Nathan.

  1. bshook87 - Dec 28, 2013 at 2:05 PM

    I don’t know that I’m very comfortable with that as a Rangers fan. Feliz doesn’t appear to have the mental makeup to be a closer in the postseason. See Game 6, 2011 when Wash wanted him back in the game and he refused. Couldn’t take it. We all know what happened next.

  2. spytdi - Dec 28, 2013 at 2:12 PM

    It’s a nice problem to have with those three guys. If I were Washington, I’d give to Feliz until he proves he can mentally handle it again.

  3. markofapro - Dec 28, 2013 at 2:30 PM

    I believe he is ready, BS. He’s had time to reflect, pitched in a couple of important situations last September, and is physically fit.


  4. dylanthom2013 - Dec 28, 2013 at 4:39 PM

    I think Ogando might be a long-shot candidate for the job too. If Colby Lewis shows he’s back to form in ST, maybe he wins the last rotation spot and Ogando goes to the pen and with Ogando’s gas it’s hard to see him limited to just a mop-up/long-relief role. As a reliever in ’10 and ’12, he ranked among the top-10 in average fastball velocity at 96.3 and 97-mph respectively. Also seems pretty calm and fearless.

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