Somewhat lost in the “starter or reliever?” drama surrounding Neftali Feliz is that it sounds like Brandon Webb won’t be ready to begin the season in the Rangers’ rotation.
In fact, T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com writes today that the Rangers “clearly aren’t planning on him being ready for Opening Day.”
That news comes before Webb has even faced his first live hitters of the spring, which he’s scheduled to do during a batting practice session tomorrow.
He last started a big-league game on Opening Day of 2009, missing essentially two entire seasons with shoulder problems while being paid $15 million by Arizona. Texas’ investment was $3 million upfront with a bunch of incentives and Sullivan reports that the Rangers are still hoping he can join the rotation at some point in April.
Webb isn’t ready, Scott Feldman is even further behind in his recovery from knee surgery, and Feliz appears destined to remain in the bullpen, so right now Derek Holland, Tommy Hunter, and Matt Harrison look likely to join C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis in the rotation.
The Mets signed left-hander Matt Purke to a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Purke will also receive an invitation to spring training, where he could presumably beef up the club’s left-handed relief options alongside Jerry Blevins and Josh Smoker.
Purke has not appeared in the majors since 2016, when he was used in a dozen relief appearances by the White Sox. The 27-year-old racked up a 5.50 ERA, 6.0 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 in his first 18 innings with the team, and was demoted to Triple-A Charlotte in June to finish out the season. He spent the entire 2017 season in Triple-A as well, showing more promise with a 3.84 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 11.0 SO/9 in 48 appearances.
While Purke may not amount to much more than a depth piece in New York’s ‘pen, the veteran lefty figures to be part of the Mets’ new bullpen-first strategy next year. Reports from MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo indicate that the club will be focusing on improving their relief options in order to ease the workload of their starting pitchers, and will likely add a few more arms before the offseason comes to a close.