Generally speaking, I'm of the notion that the loss of a starting pitcher for anything less than a couple months does not have that large an impact on a team. However, if that starting pitcher is the missing piece that can turn a rotation from being top-five in the league to number one overall, things change. Neftali Feliz has been on the disabled list since the start of the season, but he is inching closer to return. And his return could mean a jump to number one for the Rangers' pitching staff.
Currently, the Texas Rangers are ranked 3rd in the American League in ERA at 2.85. Obviously that won't hold up. It's far too early in the season to put much stock in that number. However, the team does have good pitching, and with Feliz's return, they could have the top pitching in the AL. Fortunately, we won't have much longer to wait as Feliz's rehab is progressing nicely.
Rangers rehabbers Neftali Feliz throwing out to 105 feet and Kyle McClellan throwing out to 120 feet.
— Anthony Andro (@aandro) April 16, 2013
Feliz was converted to a starter last year. He had spent his previous three seasons in Texas as a reliever - a damn good one at that. Last season, though, didn't go as planned as Feliz went down with the dreaded UCL tear. He underwent Tommy John surgery on August 1st of last season. So while the news of his rehab progression is good, Feliz is not expected back until the second half of this season. Even then, any setback could push his recovery timetable back and even cost Feliz all of this year.
Feliz made seven start slash season and posted a 3.16 ERA. In his career, he has a 2.67 ERA. So far, we have not been able to see what Feliz can do as a starter over the course of a full season, but we know what type of pitcher he is. Feliz knows how to pitch, and he knows how to get outs. If the Rangers can get him back in early August, it will essentially feel like the team went out and made a July 31st deadline deal to get a pitcher. The boost could be enough to help them into the playoffs.
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