Spring training is nearing its end (thankfully) and as managers finalize the end of their roster, the last bullpen spots are being decided. Here are a few items from today:
• We learned yesterday that Joakim Soria would be closing games in Texas and now we found out that Neftali Feliz was optioned to Triple-A. From GM Jon Daniels: “He’s healthy and his work ethic has been solid, but he needs some work and the best place to get him that is in Round Rock right now. I expect he’ll be back as soon as he’s ready to help us.” When that will be I’m not entirely sure, and I don’t know if the Rangers are either. If Feliz is healthy as Daniels says and only throwing 91-93 MPH then he likely won’t be the force that he was the first time he was a closer in Texas. Feliz certainly doesn’t have to touch 100 MPH on his fastball to be effective, but this current version of Feliz isn’t the same pitcher we’re used to seeing. I don’t doubt that Feliz will be back in Texas but I also think that he’ll remain a set up option at best, with Soria holding closing duties for the duration of the season.
• Matt Williams hasn’t decided on the Nationals’ fifth starter yet, but reliever Aaron Barrett has made the team. Barrett was the closer in AA last year and saved 26 games but more importantly pitched to a 2.15 ERA and 1.87 FIP in 50.1 innings, striking out 69 batters against just 15 walks. Spring training stats shouldn’t carry much weight but Barrett was great this spring, pitching 9.2 scoreless innings with seven strikeouts without a walk. Barrett has a few big names ahead of him before he’s receiving higher leveraged innings or consistent holds, but he’s definitely a name to keep in mind on the waiver wire.
• Michael Pineda won the Yankees 5th starter job over David Phelps and Phelps is now looking at a swing man/long relief role in the Bronx. With the attrition rate of starting pitchers Phelps is very likely to see the rotation at some point this season. For those in very deep leagues/strict roster slots a SP/RP can hold some value and Phelps can help teams there. He’s essentially a league average pitcher (career 98 FIP-) but that could improve with a role in the bullpen.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]
When he's not focusing on every team's bullpen situation, Ben can be found blogging at Ben's Baseball Bias and on Twitter @BensBias