Neftali Feliz: Texas Rangers' Top 5 Options to Replace Him
Almost two months into the Neftali Feliz experiment and the star right-hander has hit a snag.
Feliz was put on the disabled list with an inflamed right elbow and it is expected that he will not return to the rotation for at least a month according to team president Nolan Ryan.
That leaves the Texas Rangers with a new job opening, and here are the five most likely candidates for the position.
5. Jacob Brigham
I only bring up Jacob Brigham because of the season he is having with Double-A Frisco.
Chances are that before you read this you had never heard of Jacob Brigham, a sixth-round draft pick in 2006, but if he keeps up what he is doing in Frisco it wont be long before he gets a lot of attention.
Brigham is 2-1 with a 2.98 ERA and a strikeout to walk ratio of well over three.
His opponent’s batting average of .218 is another good indicator that he might be ready to get a shot at the big league level. He is also already on the Rangers’ 40-man roster so Texas could avoid out righting another pitcher who could be picked up off of waivers.
Brigham probably won’t be ready for another year, but he would be an interesting choice.
4. Martin Perez
Martin Perez is the top-pitching prospect in the Rangers organization and has the ability to be a top end of the rotation starter for Texas.
However, Perez has struggled this season with Triple-A Round Rock going 3-4 with a 5.72 ERA, walking 22 while striking out just 31.
Coming into the season people expected that Perez might be a September call-up for the Rangers, but now he clearly has to figure out how to command his pitches on a regular basis to make it up to the big leagues.
Perez might be ready sometime this season to be a relief starter, but not right now.
3. Roy Oswalt
Roy Oswalt sounds like a really good plan for Texas. But there are two things to think about with this scenario.
Number one is Oswalt may not want to come to Texas if he is only guaranteed a starters job until Feliz can make it back from the disabled list.
Oswalt has made it clear that he wants to go to a team where he can start and Texas may not be able to satisfy that.
He also would cost money that the Rangers probably don’t want to spend for a stopgap. Prior to the season Texas tried to send Koji Uehara to Toronto in an attempt to shave off some payroll that Texas acquired with all of their offseason signings.
Oswalt is a nice idea in the abstract, but he may not be a practical solution for the Rangers.
2. Alexi Ogando
Although he would be my first choice he is not the first choice of the Rangers.
Ron Washington likes where Ogando fits in to this team right now as one of a handful of shut down relievers for Texas and the setup man for his setup man Mike Adams.
Ogando would be an excellent candidate to move back to the rotation.
He has proven that he can be dominant as a starter and he wouldn’t be asked to do it all season long like he was last season.
So presumably Texas could avoid the numbers they saw from Ogando in the second half of the season if he is just needed for five or six starts.
If Feldman can’t shake off the rust Ogando is the next most likely candidate within the organization to get a shot at replacing Feliz.
1. Scott Feldman
Scott Feldman is the number one choice by a mile.
He has already been a spot starter for the Rangers this season and was once the opening day starter for Texas before injury problems have set him back over the last two seasons.
Feldman has the stuff to be a good middle of the rotation starter over an entire season.
He also has experience and that will be more important to Texas than any other factor just in case this injury to Feliz lingers on for more than a month.
Mike Maddux and Ron Washington are very well versed with Feldman and that will help both the coaching staff and Feldman maximize his ability as a starter once again while Feliz is on the disabled list.