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.”