Rangers appoint Neftali Feliz temporary closer
The Texas Rangers will go with 21-year-old right-hander Neftali
Feliz as their temporary closer in place of struggling Frank
Francisco (1-2) has blown saves in his two opportunites this
season, both leading to Rangers losses, and has a 27.00 ERA in
Feliz, whose fastball is regularly clocked in the high 90s, has
been the eighth-inning setup man, striking out five in 2 1-3
innings over three games.
“He’s our closer until I get Frankie back there,” Rangers
manager Ron Washington said before Sunday’s series finale against
Seattle. “Frankie will be the closer of the Texas Rangers. We’re
just giving him a chance to get himself together.”
Francisco’s fastball has dipped from the mid-90s last season to
the low-90s, and many of his pitches have been over the middle of
“He’s not the animal, the guy we’ve seen come in and make
people understand that this game is over,” Washington said. “We
haven’t seen that guy. His location has been off and he hasn’t had
a chance to use all his pitches. We just want to give him a
On Saturday, Washington was noncommittal when he was asked if
Francisco had lost his job after he gave up three runs and three
hits while registering only one out as Seattle rallied in the ninth
for a 4-3 victory.
But Washington and pitching coach Mike Maddux later decided to
make a change, meeting with Francisco prior to Sunday’s game.
Last season Francisco converted 25 of 29 save opportunities with
a 3.83 ERA. But he spent three stints on the disabled list, two
with right arm problems.
Washington said Francisco’s problems aren’t physical.
“To me, he’s fine,” Washington said. “Frankie’s a very
intelligent guy. He says he’s healthy. He just hasn’t gotten the
job done. We need to give him time to get it right.”
Washington said several times that the situation was only
temporary, that he expects Francisco to reassume the end-of-game
role at some point.
“There’s no way we can see ourselves making it through this
year without Frankie Francisco being who he is,” Washington
For now, Francisco will continue to pitch out of the bullpen,
but in a “less stressful situation” that was unspecified by
Washington said Francisco can still be effective without a
“I’ve seen guys go out there at 92, 93 and get outs,”
Washington said. “Frankie can get people out at 92, 93. I know
we’re used to seeing 95, 96, and we expect that to come back. But
he has enough to get outs. He’s just not putting the ball where he
Francisco has admitted he’s been “missing a lot in the middle”
of the plate and now must deal with the fallout.
Left-hander Darren Oliver will temporarily inherit the
eighth-inning slot from Feliz, with right-handers Chris Ray and
Darren O’Day also in the mix.
The concerns over Feliz are his lack of experience and the fact
that the Rangers have been protective of his arm.
Washington said pitch count would determine whether Feliz will
close in consecutive games.
“A lot will depend on how he uses his pitches,” Washington
said. “If he goes out there and throws 28 pitches, of course we’ve
got to go in another direction. But if Frankie’s closing and throws
20-something pitches, we would do the same thing. It’s tied to what
it takes for him to get three outs.”