You wouldn’t know it by Jon Daniels’ somewhat reflective comments to the media today, but Rangers actually still have a shot of winning this series. Granted, a pretty small one.
Anyway, one of the notable things to take away from today is that Daniels told Jeff Kaplan of ESPNDallas.com that he expects Neftali Feliz to remain in the closer role next season.
“Probably the two questions were can he close and can he start?” Daniels said. “You knew that somewhere that arm is going to play. I think we’ve definitively answered one of them. There’s no doubt in anybody’s mind he can close. We don’t know whether he can start and I don’t know if we’re going to find out. We’ve talked about it at some point that we might. We’re not going to close that door, but we’re also not going to speculate on it any more than is necessary. He’s our closer. I would expect he’ll be our closer.”
Feliz, 22, compiled a 2.73 ERA, 71/18 K/BB ratio over 69 1/3 innings during the regular season. He also set a major league rookie record by notching 40 saves in 43 chances.
It’s difficult to mess with a good thing, but Feliz obviously could provide much more value to the team in the long-term if he is moved to the starting rotation. We’ll have plenty of time to talk about the Rangers’ offseason plans once this series is over, but it will be interesting to see if Daniels wavers a bit on this should Cliff Lee sign elsewhere this winter.
I hope you don’t have any plans tonight at around 10PM Eastern time, because that’s when we get a pitching matchup for the ages as Max Scherzer will take on Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium. When they meet tonight it will be the first time two pitchers with three or more Cy Young Awards have matched up since 2006. That year, and in 2005 and 2000, Roger Clemens faced Greg Maddux. In 2001 Clemens faced Pedro Martinez.
Kershaw won his hardware in 2011, 2013 and 2014, with an MVP award in 2014 to boot. Scherzer collected trophies in 2013, 2016 and 2017. Each has started the 2018 season in Cy Young form. Kershaw is 1-2, but that record is due to poor run support. He has a 1.73 ERA and has struck out 31 batters and has walked only three in 26 innings. Scherzer is 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA and a whopping 38 strikeouts to only 4 walks in 27 innings.
This will be the third time that Kershaw and Scherzer faced each other if you include the playoffs. The first meeting was a decade ago when both were rookies. They most recently faced off in Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS, way back when Scherzer only had one Cy Young Award to his credit. Kershaw beat Scherzer in that playoff game and the Dodgers beat Scherzer’s teams in the two regular season matchups, with neither guy setting the world on fire. As so often happens in baseball, the hype hasn’t been matched by reality.
Still, there’s always a chance it will. And even if, in the end, this turns into a slugfest, the first couple of innings should at least give us some hope of something good. I’ll be watching.