Neftali Feliz has made it through long-toss sessions in each of the last two days after leaving Tuesday’s start against the Cubs due to shoulder stiffness, but the Rangers plan to be extra cautious before clearing him to pitch in a game again.
T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports that Feliz will not make his next scheduled start Monday against the Reds. The Rangers haven’t ruled him out for the start of the season, but it’s increasingly unlikely he’ll have enough time to be fully-stretched out. And there’s little reason to take any chances considering he’s making the transition to the starting rotation this spring.
Scott Feldman is now scheduled to make the start Monday and figures to be the stopgap option for the rotation if Feliz is forced to miss the first few weeks of the season. Alexi Ogando has returned to the bullpen, but he could be an option if Feliz’s shoulder issue ends up being more severe than originally believed.
No surprise here: The Astros are headed back to the postseason to defend their title following a landslide 11-3 win over the Angels on Friday. This figures to be their third playoff run since 2015, though they have yet to wrap up the AL West with a division title.
First baseman Yuli Gurriel led the charge on Friday, smashing a grand slam in the first inning and tacking on a two-run homer in the second and RBI single in the fifth to help the Astros to a seven-run lead. The Angels eventually returned fire, first with Mike Trout‘s 418-foot homer in the sixth, then with an RBI hit from Francisco Arcia in the seventh, but they couldn’t close the gap in time to overtake the Astros.
On the mound, right-hander Gerrit Cole clinched his 15th win of the year after holding the Angels to seven innings of three-run, 12-strikeout ball. His sixth strikeout of the night — delivered on an 83.1-MPH knuckle curveball to Kaleb Cowart — also marked the 1,000th strikeout of his career to date. He was backed by flawless performances by lefty reliever Tony Sipp and rookie right-hander Dean Deetz, both of whom turned in scoreless innings as the offense barreled toward an 11-3 finish with Jake Marisnick‘s sac bunt and George Springer‘s three-run shot in the eighth.
Despite having qualified for the playoffs, the Astros still carry a magic number of 6 as they look to clinch a third straight division title. They’re currently up against the Athletics, who entered Friday’s contest against the Twins just four games back of first place in the AL West.