Neftali Feliz has pitched exclusively out of the bullpen since debuting last August and replaced Frank Francisco as the Rangers’ closer earlier this week, but general manager Jon Daniels wrote today in an online chat that the 22-year-old phenom may still end up in the rotation long term:
Going to depend on the makeup of the roster and how Neftali’s developing. Plenty of guys have relieved (or even closed) and then moved back to the rotation (Lowe, Dempster, Smoltz, Wainright, etc.). He’s not even 22 yet and has less than three months in the big leagues. We want him to get some experience under his belt–we have not abandoned the idea of him starting in the future, but that’s not our immediate focus.
Feliz was an elite prospect as a starter in the minors and I’m always of the opinion that young pitchers should be given an extended opportunity to show whether they can thrive for 200 innings per season before being moved to a role that limits them to 70 innings per season.
Getting his feet wet as a reliever isn’t a bad idea, especially given Francisco’s struggles and the bullpen’s overall lack of depth, but hopefully Daniels and the Rangers still have plans for Feliz as a starter.
Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.
On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.
Nick Groke of the Denver Post reports that the Rockies agreed to a $200 million, 30-year lease with the Metropolitan Baseball Stadium District, which is the state division that owns Coors Field. As part of the deal, the Rockies will lease and develop a plot of land south of the stadium, which will cost the team $125 million for 99 years.
As Groke points out, had the Rockies not reached a deal by Thursday, March 30, the lease would have rolled over for five more years.
Rockies owner Dick Monfort issued a statement, saying, “We are proud that Coors Field will continue to be a vital part of a vibrant city, drawing fans from near and far and making our Colorado residents proud.”
The Rockies moved into Coors Field in 1995. It is the National League’s third oldest stadium. In that span of time, the Rockies have made the playoffs three times, the last coming in 2009 when they lost in the NLDS to the Phillies. The Rockies were swept in the 2007 World Series by the Red Sox.