No decision has been made yet regarding Neftali Feliz’s role, but the Rangers announced today that Alexi Ogando will remain a reliever after trying out for a rotation spot alongside Feliz this spring.
Feliz was a full-time starter for most of his minor-league career, whereas Ogando has started a grand total of three games as a professional, so keeping him in the bullpen makes plenty of sense after he went 4-1 with a 1.30 ERA and 39/16 K/BB ratio in 42 innings as a rookie.
In fact, if the Rangers move Feliz into the rotation I think there’s a pretty good chance Ogando will emerge as their closer at some point this season. Or at least he should. Ogando has electric raw stuff, with a fastball that averaged 96.3 miles per hour last year, and has racked up 11.6 strikeouts per nine innings between the minors and majors.
I would hope by now that I no longer have to preface All-Star talk with my usual “none of this matters” disclaimers, but please keep all of that in mind when I mention that Nick Markakis is leading all National League outfielders in All-Star voting.
Markakis, with 1,173,653 votes, has surpassed the slumping Bryce Harper in that category. Harper has 1,002,696 votes. The third place outfielder is Matt Kemp of the Dodgers with 925,697. Fourth place — Charlie Blackmon of the Dodgers — is like 300,000 votes back of Kemp.Yes, Markakis, Harper and Kemp may be the starting NL outfield. Brandon Nimmo — not on the ballot — should be grumpy, but he’ll get his chance I’m sure.
The thing about it: Markakis, for as unexpected as his appearance may be on this list, deserves to at least be in the top three. He’s second in WAR among National League outfielders behind Lorenzo Cain. He’s slowed down a good bit in June and he’s coming off of a 2017 season in which he had a 96 OPS+ and 0.7 WAR, but he’s having quite an outstanding season. I write that mostly so that there is a record of it come October and we’ve all forgotten it.
Seriously, though, good for Markakis, who has never made an All-Star Game. Good for Kemp too for that matter, who most people assumed was a walking — well, limping — corpse heading into this season. Good for Harper because anything that can keep up the guise of him having a good year when, in reality, he’s really not, will help his confidence as he heads into free agency.
Finally, good for the American League, who will likely get to face a far, far inferior National League team next month in Washington.
The rest of the voting: