Rangers prepping Feliz for second-half bullpen role

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eneral manager Jon Daniels announced
this morning that top prospect Neftali Feliz is moving from the
rotation to the bullpen at Triple-A, signaling that the Rangers have
him in their plans as a reliever for the second half.

“We’d like to see if he’s an option to help the major-league club in
that role,” Daniels said. “We still feel he may start for us in the
future, but we’re going to go down this path first.”

Letting young pitchers get their feet wet in the majors as relievers
is never a bad idea and Feliz has averaged under five innings per start
at Triple-A, so if he’s going to help the Rangers down the stretch the
bullpen makes sense. With that said, hopefully Daniels and company
haven’t given up on the notion of Feliz being a starter long term.

In terms of raw stuff Feliz is second-to-none among minor-league pitchers and Baseball America ranked him
as the 10th-best prospect in all of baseball after he posted a 2.69 ERA
with 153 strikeouts in 127 innings between Single-A and Double-A as a
20-year-old in 2008.

Feliz hasn’t been nearly as dominant at Triple-A this season,
posting a 3.86 ERA with shaky control and “only” 55 strikeouts in 60.2
innings, but his performance has actually been exceptional for a
21-year-old in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League where the
average player is five years his senior.

Curtis Granderson is close to making history

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 22:  Curtis Granderson #3 of the New York Mets connects on a three-run home run in the second inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field on September 22, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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With a fourth-inning solo home run off of Phillies starter Jake Thompson, Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson reached the 30-homer plateau for the fourth time in his 13-year career. It’s a moment worth celebrating, only there’s one problem: he has just 56 RBI on the season.

There are many reasons for the low RBI total. 24 of Granderson’s 30 homers have come with the bases empty. He came into Sunday’s action hitting just .140 in 124 plate appearances with runners in scoring position and .197 with runners on base. He has hit leadoff for most of the season, meaning he’s had the Mets’ pitchers hitting “ahead” of him in the No. 9 slot as well as the Mets’ catchers typically hitting eighth. Mets catchers, collectively, have a .296 on-base percentage, the second-worst mark in the National League.

Since the end of August, Granderson has hit cleanup with Jose Reyes, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Yoenis Cespedes hitting in front of him. That change hasn’t been for naught, as he has 17 RBI in 21 games since.

Still, Granderson is on pace for the fewest RBI in a 30-homer season. Rob Deer and Felix Mantilla are tied for the record with 64 RBI. Deer (32 HR) accomplished the feat in 1992 with the Tigers and Mantilla (30 HR) in 1964 with the Red Sox. Only eight players have had 70 or fewer homers in a 30-homer season. Evan Gattis is currently sitting on 30 homers with 68 RBI.

MLB teams pay tribute to José Fernández’s memory

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Following the announcement of the 24-year-old’s death, Major League Baseball observed a moment of silence for José Fernández before each of today’s games. While this afternoon’s Marlins-Braves game was cancelled out of respect for the organization, Miami painted Fernández’s jersey number on the mound in honor of their former pitcher.

Other teams, like the Mets, Mariners, and Dodgers, chose to honor Fernández by hanging his No. 16 jersey in their dugout:

Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports reports that David Ortiz‘s pregame retirement ceremony at Tropicana Field was canceled at the player’s request:

The Astros and Diamondbacks each displayed a personal tribute to Fernández, writing the number 16 on their caps and etching his number and initials in the bullpen:

Rest in peace, Fernández.