What has happened to Neftali Feliz?

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Last night Neftali Feliz blew his fifth save of the season and was yanked in the middle of the ninth inning after giving up three hits and a walk while recording just one out against the Twins.

Even after the poor appearance his ERA stands at a still-impressive 3.35, but he’s already blown more saves than he did all of last season in 18 fewer chances and the rest of Feliz’s numbers have fallen apart as well.

Last year Feliz had 9.2 strikeouts and 2.3 walks per nine innings while opponents hit .176 off him. This year Feliz has 6.2 strikeouts and 4.8 walks per nine innings while opponents hit .217 off him.

So his strikeouts are down 33 percent, his walks are up 110 percent, and his opponents’ batting average has risen 40 points. His average fastball velocity is down, but only 0.5 miles per hour, and he’s throwing his fastball the same 82 percent of the time as last year. However, his fastball has been far less effective and his curveball has gone from a major asset to a weakness.

Ron Washington is sticking with Feliz, because as the manager put it last night: “I’ll give him the ball again. There’s not much else I can do.”

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.