Over the past few seasons the Detroit Tigers have been slowed on their road to winning the Fall Classic, mainly due to their lack of bullpen production. Before 2014, the problem for the bullpen in Detroit was lack of talent, so they added former KC closer Joakim Soria, veteran 9th inning man Joe Nathan, and Joba Chamberlain; they were then stacked enough to pull through and possibly win the series. But, then after winning their 4th consecutive AL Central title, the Tigers got swept in the ALDS all thanks to not being able to hold leads in the late innings. And now in 2015, the pen has held them back once again.
On July 3, the Texas Rangers designated Neftali Feliz for assignment, and after clearing through waivers, Feliz decided to opt for free agency. Then, the Tigers decided to give him a chance, since they hardly made an attempt to upgrade their pen during the offseason. So far this season, the Tigers have lost Joe Nathan to Tommy John surgery, have released Joba Chamberlin, and Joakim Soria has been again a disappointment. The bullpen has been yet again the problem to drag the team down, as the Tigers are only 2 games above .500 now. Why not bring in a former closer who has been an all-star that is trying to get back into the game after dealing with injuries the last few seasons?
Neftali Feliz was formally the #9 prospect in baseball, and lived up to that as he came up with the Rangers in 2009 to prefect an ERA of 1.74 in 31 innings, then saved 40 games the next season, as an all-star. Since then he has only averaged to pitch in 34 innings/year, as the Rangers direction has changed and Feliz’s health hasn’t been the best since recovering from Tommy John back in 2012. But, a fresh start with a new team who is looking for a bullpen leader may be the place for Netfali.
Feliz is a big 6 foot 3 inches, weighing in at 225 pounds; he throws a hard 95 MPH four seam fastball along with a slider and changeup. He has the typical repertoire of a power closer, as his career K/9 is 8.3. When he won the ROTY Award in 2010, he caught many batters swinging and missing on his way to an ERA of 2.73, as he only blew 3 save opportunities on his way to leading the AL with 40 successes in the 9th inning. With the Detroit Tigers, Feliz will most likely take over as closer, and mentor to young Bruce Rondon. The Tigers are hoping that this addition will improve the bullpen to have three solidified back end relievers in Joakim Soria, Bruce Rondon, and Neftali Feliz. The Tiger’s new bullpen addition could very well be an anchor to their crumbling late inning pitching numbers, in order to finally get over the obstacle that has held them back from a WS title for years now.