Neftali Feliz works as a starter while rehabbing elbow injury

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Back when Neftali Feliz went on the disabled list with an elbow injury in mid-May the Rangers had so much rotation depth that there was speculation he’d return as a reliever.

Since then Feliz has been joined on the DL by Colby Lewis, Derek Holland, and Alexi Ogando–and Roy Oswalt has been knocked around–so not surprisingly Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star Telegram reports that Feliz “will be stretched out as a starter” again.

That likely means a longer minor-league rehab assignment, as Feliz will have to build back his arm strength instead of simply being ready for one-inning appearances. So far he’s progressed to throwing bullpen sessions and Davison indicates that Lewis may still beat Feliz back from the DL.

Ogando may also beat Feliz back from injury, but Ogando is being prepped as a reliever again after initially being asked to step into the injury wrecked rotation.

Report: Astros extend Justin Verlander for two years, $66 million

Justin Verlander
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The Astros are in agreement with right-hander Justin Verlander on a two-year, $66 million extension, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com was among those to report on Friday. With no money deferred, the $33 million he’ll receive over the next two years will set a record AAV for major-league pitchers; something MLB Network’s Jon Heyman says matters to Verlander, who “cares how his deals affect markets (and fellow players).”

While it’s far from the five-year, $100 million extension teammate Alex Bregman signed with the club on Friday, the deal will give the Astros a bigger window to consider their long-term plans for the ace before he hits free agency again. Prior to Saturday’s agreement, Verlander’s original contract — the hefty seven-year, $180 million arrangement he reached with the Tigers in 2013 — was set to expire at the conclusion of the 2019 season.

It’s difficult to overestimate the value Verlander has provided to the Astros since they acquired him from the Tigers back in 2017. He was named the 2017 ALCS MVP following seven shutout innings in a must-win Game 6 performance and helped the Astros clinch their first franchise World Series title. In 2018, he earned his seventh career All-Star distinction and received consideration for both AL Cy Young and MVP awards after pitching to a 16-9 record in 34 starts with a 2.52 ERA, 1.6 BB/9, 12.2 SO/9 (the product of a career-high 290 strikeouts), and 6.7 fWAR over 214 innings.

The deal has not been confirmed by the team.