Texas traded closer Joakim Soria to Detroit for a pair of prospects and Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports that the Rangers will likely turn back to a familiar name to fill the vacant closer role: Neftali Feliz.
Feliz was the Rangers’ closer in 2010 and 2011, saving 74 career games by age 22, but then they tried to make him a starter and Tommy John elbow surgery followed. His comeback hasn’t been a smooth one and Feliz spent the first two months of this season at Triple-A before being called up to Texas in early July.
Since returning he’s posted a nice-looking 2.61 ERA in seven appearances, but a 4/3 K/BB ratio in 10.1 innings tells a much less impressive story for a pitcher who racked up 164 strikeouts in his first 163 innings as a big leaguer. His average fastball velocity is 92.2 miles per hour, compared to 96.3 mph in 2010-2011, so if Feliz does in fact slide back into the closer role there may be some bumps along the way.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.
Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.
The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.