Neftali Feliz has done more bad than good this season on the mound, yielding a run in 12 of his 29 appearances so far. While he can’t redeem himself for the Milwaukee Brewers, he can for the Kansas City Royals.
Neftali Feliz, in the midst of one of the worst years in his career, has found a new place to pitch.
The Kansas City Royals, just four games back of the Cleveland Indians for the division lead, agreed to a deal with Feliz on Thursday, per Ken Rosenthal. The Milwaukee Brewers designated the reliever for assignment earlier this week after he posted a 1-5 record with a 6.00 ERA in just 27 innings.
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The former Rookie of the Year signed a one-year, $5.35 million contract with Milwaukee this past offseason, but was thrust out of his role by Corey Knebel last month, with good reason. Knebel has been phenomenal and just broke the record for most consecutive appearances with a strikeout.
Feliz looked like his 22-year-old self in the first half of April, notching five saves in his first seven appearances, often displaying an electric fastball reaching the upper-90s. But after blowing a save to the Chicago Cubs on April 19, thanks to an Addison Russell walk-off jack, he never rebounded.
Opponents have punished the Dominican via the long ball, as he has surrendered eight home runs this season. He’s always been prone to home runs, but his average rate skyrocketed this year. He allowed 10 bombs in 53 2/3 innings last season in Pittsburgh.
Kansas City will likely use Feliz as a late-inning guy, but his role could be increased depending on where the Royals are in the standings before the trade deadline. If they slide out of contention in the division, the front office will likely deal closer Kelvin Herrera and possibly Joakim Soria. If both are dealt, Feliz with his experience could become the closer.
Yet if Kansas City remains in contention, then manager Ned Yost could utilize him late in games, even against left-handed hitters, who have hit a measly .182 against him in his career. His track record isn’t bad, and he did piece together a solid year in 2016, sporting a 3.52 ERA with a team-high 30 holds.
The Royals, who have boasted a top-10 bullpen in every season since 2012, are lacking in that category this season. Even with solid years from guys like Mike Minor – remember him? – and Scott Alexander, the team’s relievers rank 20th in both ERA and BAA.
Kansas City doesn’t have much to lose, especially because they likely won’t be buying a reliever at the deadline. And if Feliz doesn’t perform well, the front office can do what Milwaukee did and send him on his way.