Ron Washington declared the closer role an open competition on Thursday morning. Later in the afternoon, Neftali Feliz showed signs of progress in re-establishing himself as the front-runner.
Feliz still has a ways to go in building up his arm strength, sitting in the 90-92 mph range in his inning, but had a more fluid delivery by using a higher arm angle the Rangers have worked with him on.
“It’s something I need to practice every day and work on every day to be consistent,” Feliz said of his altered delivery.
As far as velocity, Feliz isn’t too concerned. He worked more on locating his fastball down and away, and believes his velocity will be where it needs to once camp breaks.
“The velocity will come,” Washington said. “The key is that he throws the ball over the plate, uses his pitches and keeps his arm angle high.”
Feliz isn’t alone in trying to win the closer role. Joakim Soria was a two-time All-Star in that role and also threw a perfect inning Thursday. And Tanner Scheppers, who is being stretched out as a starter for now, is another candidate after emerging as a dependable setup reliever last season.