Ron Washington has used Neftali Feliz in a close game just once all postseason

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Last night I criticized Ron Washington for allowing a two-run deficit to turn into a blowout loss while closer Neftali Feliz sat in the bullpen unused, but it was far from the first time the Rangers’ manager has failed to get his best reliever into a close game.

In fact, Game 3 of the ALDS versus the Rays is the only time this entire postseason that Washington has actually brought Feliz into a close game.

Seriously.

Here are the circumstances of Feliz’s other four playoff appearances:

• Game 1 of the ALDS: He pitched the ninth inning with a four-run lead.

• Game 2 of the ALCS: He pitched the ninth inning with a five-run lead.

• Game 3 of the ALCS: He pitched the ninth inning with an eight-run lead.

• Game 6 of the ALCS: He pitched the ninth inning with a five-run lead.

Feliz was one of the elite relievers in baseball this season, posting a 2.73 ERA, .176 opponents’ batting average, and 71/18 K/BB ratio in 69 innings. Yet because Washington is focused on managing his bullpen around the save statistic Feliz has pitched in just five games all postseason and four of those appearances came when the Rangers had a lead of at least four runs.

And there have certainly been no shortage of key late-game spots where Washington could have called on Feliz, beginning with the eerily similar eighth-inning bullpen implosions in Game 1 of the ALCS against the Yankees and Game 2 of the World Series last night. In both of those vital situations Feliz went unused and the Rangers let games slip away while Washington turned to just about every other reliever in the bullpen.

Texas has played 14 playoff games and Feliz has faced a grand total of 20 batters, just four of which came in a close game. To put that ridiculous usage into some context, consider that Darren Oliver has faced 32 batters while appearing three more times than Feliz. Heck, even Darren O’Day (19 batters faced) and Alexi Ogando (18 batters faced) have been used nearly as much and in more crucial situations than Feliz.

Instead of doing everything he possibly can to save the Rangers’ season Washington has been more focused on holding his best reliever back for so-called “save” situations that may never arrive.

Jung Ho Kang granted work visa to re-enter the U.S.

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Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that third baseman Jung Ho Kang has been granted a work visa and will soon rejoin the Pirates. Kang had previously not been allowed to enter the U.S. after he was arrested for his third DUI in Seoul in December 2016.

There was some thought that Kang wouldn’t ever play for the Pirates again, but things have worked out in his favor. It will still likely be a while until he actually appears in a major league game, as he will need to get back into game shape and up to game speed.

Pirates president Frank Coonelly said, “After a lengthy process, we are pleased that Jung Ho has been allowed to re-enter the United States. We are encouraged by the steps that Jung Ho has taken to date and are hopeful that having the games he loves taken away from him for more than a year has driven home the reality that he must make better life decisions as we move forward together.

As we have communicated to him throughout this process, we will work to provide Jung Ho with the resources and support necessary for him to meet the high expectations that we have for him as a member of our organization and our community.”

The Pirates signed Kang as an international free agent out of South Korea to a four-year, $11 million contract in January 2015. If he were to appear in the majors this season, he would earn a prorated $3 million. He has a club option for next season worth $5.5 million with a $250,000 buyout.