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.

Justin Verlander: “I’d like to see the AL and NL have the same rules… I vote NL rules.”

SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 10:  Starting pitcher Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers pitches against the Seattle Mariners in the first inning at Safeco Field on August 10, 2016 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
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On Thursday afternoon, Rays pitcher Chris Archer asked his Twitter followers, “Lots swirling around what needs to be changed about the game of baseball. What do y’all want to see changed, if anything, & why?”

Tigers ace Justin Verlander responded:

To that, Archer said:

For what it’s worth, Verlander hasn’t been much of a hitter. In 47 career plate appearances, he has three singles and no extra-base hits. And if the AL did get rid of the DH rule, the Tigers would have nowhere to put Victor Martinez. Verlander, though, would have an easier time pitching to opposing pitchers rather than their DH’s.

Rusney Castillo disappoints again by not running out a routine grounder

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 18:  Rusney Castillo #38 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after he was caught off third base for the third out of the third inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on August 18, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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The Red Sox inked Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract back in August 2014. Over parts of three seasons, the 29-year-old has a .679 OPS across 337 plate appearances in the majors and spent the vast majority of the 2016 season at Triple-A Pawtucket.

Castillo had a chance to start things off on the right foot in 2017, but that ship has already sailed. On Thursday against Northeastern at JetBlue Park, Castillo didn’t run out a routine ground ball. He claims he lost track of the outs. Manager John Farrell isn’t happy about the situation. Via Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald:

“Disappointing for a couple of reasons,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “One, he has lost the number of outs. Still, regardless of another of outs, getting down the line is controllable. And for a player in his situation, every little aspect of the game is important. That’s something that was addressed in the moment. He needs to execute the game situation. And for that matter, every player. But that one obviously stood out.”

Everyone always makes far too big a deal about running out grounders. It’s a real nit to pick when it’s February 23 and your team just finished playing an exhibition game that is even more meaningless than the other exhibition games that will be played in the coming month.

That being said, Castillo has to prove himself to merit inclusion on the 25-man roster and that means dotting all his i’s and crossing all his t’s. Even if he went hitless all spring, Castillo could have at least said he couldn’t have done anything else better. But on day one, he already gave his team a reason to count him out.