Neftali Feliz was certainly a familiar name to fantasy baseball owners during the 2010 and 2011 seasons, as he had 72 total saves with a 2.73 ERA as the Texas Rangers’ closer over that time. But he was moved to the starting rotation in 2012, made just eight appearances (seven starts) before eventually undergoing Tommy John surgery and he pitched 4.2 innings for Texas late last season after a brief minor league rehab stint.
Feliz has reportedly made it through winter ball without issue, which makes him a candidate to re-claim the closer role for the Rangers. Should fantasy owners have him back on their radar?
Joe Nathan had 43 saves as the Rangers’ closer last season, but he signed with the Detroit Tigers in free agency. Just three saves remain on the team’s current roster from 2013, and Tanner Scheppers (one save last season) and Joakim Soria (160 career saves) join Feliz as the top candidates to move into a very lucrative role for fantasy owners. Soria underwent Tommy John surgery of his own that kept him out for the entire 2012 season, but he was solid (3.80 ERA) in a set-up role upon his return to action last year. Scheppers had an excellent 2013 season out of the bullpen, with a 1.88 ERA in 76 appearances, but he is also a possible candidate to move into the starting rotation.
Owners in early drafts may be left to speculate on who will become the Rangers’ closer without any concrete clarity on the situation, but as long as he remains healthy Feliz looks like a better option than Soria and Scheppers. Without save opportunities Soria’s fantasy value will be minimal at best, but Scheppers could carry some value in leagues that count holds (27 last season).
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.