2010 Rookie of the Year Neftali Feliz went on the 15-day DL with shoulder inflammation today, and the immediate question becomes, who replaces him as the closer?
Analysis: There seems to be three choices here; Darren O’Day and Pedro Strop, and Arthur Rhodes. Strop has a sensational line (1.68 ERA, .118 BAA), but a monstrous 1.50 WHIP. O’day’s numbers (2.84 ERA, .250 BAA, 1.58 WHIP) are worse.
Strop seems to be too loose with no runners on base, indicative of his 8th inning last night – 2 walks, a single, and a sacrifice fly. He’s still raw, but never discount a 96 mph fastball to close out the 9th inning.
O’Day has struggled so far this season. He has walked 4 in 6.1 innings, while he walked 12 all last season in 62 innings. His velocity is down a little bit, down from the low 90’s to the high 80’s, and that’s having an impact on his control. Maybe the adrenaline of the 9th inning will get that little extra “oomph” on O’Day’s fastball that made him so dominant last season.
Rhodes is the most experienced arm in the bullpen. He hasn’t started a game since 1997. He was an All-Star for the first time last season, and is probably the first choice to close. He’s got the mental toughness needed for the position, but is the softest thrower of the three.
Projection: Manager Ron Washington loves to play matchups. The best guess is that if there’s a save situation with 2 or more right-handed batters, he’ll go with Strop or O’Day. If there’s 2 or more left-handed batters, he’ll go to Rhodes. Either way, Feliz isn’t expected to miss more than the 2 weeks he’ll be on the DL. I wouldn’t expect any reliever to get more than 3 saves in that span, so it’s not worth picking up a middle reliever.