Last year there was a lot of hemming and hawing over whether Neftali Feliz — who started all the way through the minor leagues before a year of closing — would return to the rotation. He started some in the spring, some words were offered to the effect that he’d start, but ultimately Ron Washington wanted him in the pen.
While it was obviously a successful season for the Rangers, they’re still thinking about Feliz in the rotation, and said this afternoon that the decision will be made before spring training begins this time, not after.
Both are good calls. Feliz as a starter makes all kinds of sense given the likely departure of C.J. Wilson and given that, even with Wilson, one or two more solid starts from someone during the postseason could have made the difference between the pen tiring out in the World Series or not. As for the timing of the decision: yes, let the young man know his role, let the manager use him in that role, and leave all of the uncertainty out of it.
I’m hoping we see Feliz start next year because it’s always better for good pitchers to start as opposed to relieve. But even if he stays put, not jerking him around like they did last year is a good thing too.
The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.
Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.
Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.