Feliz throwing gas, missing bats in Rangers' pen

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Neftali Feliz followed up his impressive big-league debut by showing that he was human in appearance No. 2, but got back to being untouchable last night. He struck out five of the six batters he faced in two perfect innings, and now has the following video game-like numbers through four career outings:

 IP      ERA     SO     BB      AVG      OBP      SLG
6.2     1.35     13      0     .045     .045     .182

Not bad, huh?
He’s faced a total of 22 batters, striking out 13 of them while walking zero and allowing just one hit for an opponents’ batting line of .045/.045/.182. Feliz’s slider and changeup have both been extremely effective so far, but obviously his overpowering fastball has gotten most of the attention. He’s thrown his fastball nearly 80 percent of the time so far, averaging an amazing 98.8 miles per hour with the seemingly effortless pitch. Here are the top fastball velocities from pitchers who’ve logged at least five innings:

Joel Zumaya           99.3
NEFTALI FELIZ         98.8
Jonathan Broxton      97.8
Daniel Bard           96.9
Brian Wilson          96.4
Matt Lindstrom        96.3

Joel Zumaya is the only guy to throw harder than Feliz, but he’s on the disabled list again because his arm basically keeps blowing up. Of the 35 pitchers to average at least 95 mph with their fastball this season only four have done so as starters, which is interesting because Feliz was a full-time starter in the minors and still figures to join the Rangers’ rotation eventually. Ubaldo Jimenez is this year’s hardest-throwing starter at 95.9, followed by Justin Verlander and Felipe Paulino at 95.4 and Josh Johnson at 95.1.
So yeah, Neftali Feliz throws kind of hard.

Report: Phillies close to signing Joaquin Benoit

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 15:  Joaquin Benoit #53 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the seventh inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim  at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 15, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.

Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.

Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.

The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.

Report: The new collective bargaining agreement reduces players’ meal money

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, JAN. 18-19 - This Jan. 15, 2014 photo showing new baseball union head Tony Clark during an interview at the organization's headquarters, in New York. Clark has big shoes to fill _ and not just as Michael Weiner's replacement as head of the baseball players' union. Moving from Arizona to New Jersey, the former big league All-Star also needed to find size 15 snowshoes.  (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
AP Photo/Richard Drew
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ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.

Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.

Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.

EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.