Pitching Primer: Neftali Feliz, Daniel Bard and Wei-Yin Chen Set to Make First MLB Starts

By Tom Froemming

A couple of baseball’s best late-inning relievers over the past two seasons will make their debuts as starters tonight. Texas Ranger Neftali Feliz and Daniel Bard of the Boston Red Sox both spent time in the minors as starting pitchers, but broke into the bigs as relievers.

Feliz, the 2010 American League Rookie of the Year, has saved 72 games over the past two seasons and has a 2.55 ERA over 162.2 innings with the Rangers. The Dominican right-hander stared 54 games in the minors, though he only threw as many as 127.1 innings in a single season.

Bard had been a dominant setup man for the Red Sox, posting a 2.88 ERA and 9.7 K/9 in three seasons in Boston. He has a much shorter track record as a starter in the minors, starting 22 games, all back in 2007. The Bo Sox moved him to the pen after he had a 7.08 ERA and 2.05 WHIP as a starter.

Both pitchers will hope to outperform their Spring Training numbers tonight. Feliz had a 4.85 ERA over 13 innings while Bard had a 6.57 ERA over 24.2 innings this spring. The Rangers will be hosting Blake Beavan and the Seattle Mariners while the Red Sox visit the Toronto Blue Jays and Kyle Drabek.

Also tonight, Wei-Yin Chen makes his Major League debut for the Baltimore Orioles, as the O’s host Freddy Garcia and the New York Yankees. Chen hasn’t received one iota of the attention that fellow international import Yu Darvish has, but the Taiwanese lefty has been almost as dominant in Japan.

Chen, 26, has tallied a 2.48 ERA and 1.06 WHIP over the past four years in Nippon Professional Baseball. He had a 3.60 ERA over 20 innings this spring.

Rays (Moore) at Tigers (Porcello), 1:05
Pirates (Correia) at Dodgers (Kershaw), 4:10
White Sox (Humber) at Indians (Gomez), 7:05
Yankees (Garcia) at Orioles (Chen), 7:05
Red Sox (Bard) at Blue Jays (Drabek), 7:07
Cardinals (Lohse) at Reds (Leake), 7:10
Nationals (Detwiler) at Mets (Gee), 7:10
Braves (Hanson) at Astros (Weiland), 8:05
Brewers (Narveson) at Cubs (Maholm), 8:05
Mariners (Beavan) at Rangers (Feliz), 8:05
Diamondbacks (Cahill) at Padres (Volquez), 10:05
Royals (Duffy) at Athletics (Godfrey), 10:05

Pitching Primer will be a daily feature on Rant Sports. You can follow Tom on Twitter @BaseballByTom.

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