The Rangers finally announced their opening day starter on Saturday, and in my opinion they absolutely made the right choice:
There was some speculation that Rich Harden would be given the Opening Day nod, but following the best season of his career, and an excellent spring, the Rangers decided to give Feldman the much deserved honor.
“[Feldman] deserves it,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “He won 17 games for us last year, and he’s throwing the ball very well. He deserves it.”
You better believe he deserves it.
Feldman is the veteran of this rotation as far as I am concerned. Despite this being only his third year as a starter he has shown that he deserves the respect this honor gives.
In a rotation that looks nothing like it did to start last season, Feldman is the familiar face. Last season he quietly established himself as a frontline starter.
Especially in the second half of the season his name was used amongst the likes of Zach Greinke and Roy Halladay when broadcasters were discussing statistical rankings.
He obviously does not yet have their status as an ace, but this is the next step in that journey.
The native of Hawaii is a giant on the mound. At 6’7” and 230 pounds his dominating figure on the mound has to give a batter pause as he steps to the plate.
Feldman joined the Rangers in 2005 out of San Mateo Junior College in California. For his first three seasons he was a reliever and did not do much to impress as far as numbers go.
In 2008 Feldman was forced into the role of a full time starter due to the needs of the team. He was unimpressive going 6-8 with a 5.29 ERA in 25 starts, but he filled his role by eating up some innings.
2009 proved to be his breakout season as he went 17-8 with a 4.08 ERA in 31 starts.
Despite throwing almost 40 more innings than the previous year, he allowed fewer runs and home runs, and lowered his opponent’s batting average by 30 points.
These stats would benefit any pitcher, but become extremely important when you play your home games at the hitter friendly Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
Feldman has maintained his form this spring throwing 15 innings and allowing no home runs. He improved his strikeout to walk ratio to exactly 2:1 and lowered his ERA more than a full point to 2.93.
I am well aware of the fact that these are spring training stats, and do not necessarily reflect how the season will go, but it shows that Feldman has prepared himself to take the lead of this rotation and help this team take the next step.
He threw his last game of the spring on Sunday going seven shutout innings, allowing six hits, and notching two strikeouts.
That is just the type of outing you are looking for going into the regular season.
Feldman will throw some live batting practice later this week but will not pitch in a game again until the Blue Jays come to town on April 5.
After watching Feldman come into his own last season, I am thrilled to see him get this opportunity as he has definitely earned it.
We have not had a solid starter in the rotation that I had a lot of confidence in in quite some time, but Feldman has become that guy.
He will provide a stable foundation for the rest of the rotation to build on. Everyone else is either young, coming off of injury, new to the rotation, or coming from Japan so Texas will look to Feldman to take the lead and point the team in the right direction.
It all gets started a week from today and I can hardly wait to see my Rangers make the run that I have been waiting for for over a decade.