Tag:Darren Oliver
Posted on: April 24, 2011 3:23 pm
Edited on: April 24, 2011 3:27 pm
 

Without Feliz, Rangers have closer question

Rangers

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Rangers headed into the 2011 season fully invested in Neftali Feliz as their closer, trading Frank Francisco in the offseason and moving Alexi Ogando into the rotation to start the spring.

That left a team formerly flush with potential closers in a bind when Feliz was put on the disabled list on Saturday.

In Saturday's save situation, Ron Washington turned to veteran lefty Darren Oliver (above, middle) to get the last three outs against the Royals.

"We've got no bona fide closer right now," Washington said on Saturday, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "It's that simple."

Feliz was. WIth a 1.08 ERA in nine outings with six strikeouts in 8 1/3 innings, Feliz was a prefect 5 for 5 in save situations this season.

Now, Washington could go with Oliver, Darren O'Day or Arthur Rhodes to close out games. Of the trio, Rhodes has the most closing experience with 32 career saves, the last coming with the Marlins in 2008. The most he's had in one season is nine with Oakland in 2004. 

The right-handed O'Day (above, left) had two saves for the Rangers in 2009, the only two of his career.

Oliver's save on Saturday was the fourth of his career. He had one last season and two as a rookie for the Rangers in 1994. He also set a record on Saturday, becoming the oldest Ranger to record a save. Goose Gossage had one at 40 years, 18 days in 1991. Oliver is 40 years, 199 days. But that record may not last long, Rhodes is 41.

"I figured if you're 40 years old, you're probably going to be in a lot of history books," Oliver told Anthony Andro of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "This is probably just one of them. Just think if Arthur saves it tomorrow, he'll be the oldest one."

Ogando, 27, looked like a closer in waiting last season, pitching 44 games out of the bullpen. He had a 1.30 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 41 2/3 innings pitch. While the Rangers' toying with Feliz in the rotation drew many of the headlines in the spring, Ogando quietly won the fifth starter's spot and has been excellent. In four starts this season, he's 3-0 with a 2.13 ERA, picking up the victory against the Royals on Saturday.

Francisco saved 25 games for the Rangers in 2009 and two last season before being supplanted by Feliz. The Rangers sent him to Toronto in exchange for Mike Napoli, who is trying to help fill the offensive void left by Josh Hamilton. Since Hamilton was injured on April 12, Napoli has started five games, with hits in his last three, including a homer on Saturday. He's caught twice, played first twice and served as the DH on Saturday.

Either Francisco or Ogando would have given the Rangers something the trio of Rhodes, O'Day and Oliver do not -- a no-doubt, go-to guy in the ninth inning. 

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Posted on: March 15, 2011 3:45 pm
 

Wanted: Experienced closer, likes Texas heat

Neftali Feliz

By C. Trent Rosecrans

If Neftali Feliz is starting for the Rangers, it doesn't appear the close is in camp with the defending American League champions.

"I have confidence in Jon Daniels and our scouts," manager Ron Washington told reporters, including ESPNDallas.com's Tim MacMahon on Tuesday. "If that's the case, I'm 100 percent sure they'll go out there and find somebody to close ballgames down for us."

If that's the case, the Rangers will be looking for their seventh different closer in the last seven seasons (defining "closer" as "dude with the most saves."). The last Ranger to lead the team in saves in back-to-back years was Francisco Cordero in 2004-05. Cordero has since been an All-Star for two different teams.

Alexi OgondoThe Rangers' internal candidates appear to be Mark Lowe and Alexi Ogando (right). Or the team could go with a closer-by-committee until the trade deadline, also using veteran lefties Arthur Rhodes and Darren Oliver along with Lowe and Ogando. Prospect Tanner Scheppers is another (remote) possibility. The Rangers traded Frank Francisco, their closer in 2009, to the Blue Jays in exchange for Mike Napoli in the offseason.

As for trade candidates, the team could go out now, or wait until the trade deadline when more candidates would be available.

Among those available could be the Padres Heath Bell, the Mets' Francisco Rodriguez and the Orioles' Michael Gonzalez. The Blue Jays have several experienced closers on their roster, including Francisco, Jason Frasor, Octavio Dotel and Jon Rauch.

If the team waits until the trade deadline, if the Mariners David Aardsma could be available, as well as Cordero, who could be supplanted by Aroldis Chapman (or Nick Masset). Others that could be available include Kevin Gregg, J.J. Putz and Brandon Lyon.

However, Washington did tell reporters in the same sitting that he felt confident enough with the rotation as it is and Feliz in the bullpen. It also appears, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Jeff Wilson writes, that Washington would prefer to keep Feliz in the bullpen unless Daniels can get another closer.

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Posted on: October 16, 2010 12:55 pm
Edited on: October 16, 2010 1:02 pm
 

Where was Feliz? Bullpen mismanagement costs game

Ron Washington During the Rangers' collapse Friday night that could haunt the franchise for years to come, manager Ron Washington burned through five pitchers in the eighth inning.

Not a one was Neftali Feliz, the 22-year-old closer that could have stemmed the tide. And yet, it's hard to argue against Washington's thought process in terms of bullpen machinations until tabbing Derek Holland, the fifth pitcher of the inning.

The skipper replaced starter C.J. Wilson with a runner on second and a man already across the plate. (One could argue replacing Wilson was the first screw-up.) He chose lefty Darren Oliver to face Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira in order to get them to hit from the right side of the plate. Good idea. Bad execution, as Oliver walked both batters. That meant Darren O'Day, a groundball specialist, was headed into the game to face Alex Rodriguez in the hopes of inducing a double play.

Good idea. Bad execution.

O'Day's first pitch was a groundball, technically -- a missile that skipped off the ground and ate Michael Young up for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There may have been a midnight snack.

Then, Clay Rapada, who had all of nine innings of experience with the Rangers this season, came on to try to nullify Robinson Cano who had bashed a home run the inning prior. Yet again a good idea, yet again bad execution. Another hit, and New York was still on the merry-go-round and a 5-1 Rangers lead had evaporated into a tie.

At that point, Washington was faced with three choices. One, he could bring in closer Neftali Feliz, who could at least keep the game tied. Two, Alexi Ogando, a right-hander who has been excellent in relief, could come on to face what would have been pinch-hitter Lance Berkman. Three, Washington could keep Rapada in the game or bring in Derek Holland to face Marcus Thames.

This is where Washington's choices fell apart.

Marcus Thames is a lefty killer and has been so his entire career. He has a career .264/.333/.505 line against lefties in 750 career at-bats. He was specifically brought to New York to act as a platoon player and face lefties.

Meanwhile, Berkman has struggled through a poor season and only snapped out of a funk. However, as Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News points out, Berkman is hitting .356 against right-handed pitching since Sept. 1, and that was the statistic Washington keyed in on and made him choose the Holland/Thames matchup.

"We really had to pick who we wanted to face," Washington said. "We got the matchup we wanted. They just beat us."

There is some doubt as to whether the matchup they got was what they wanted, as there's certainly plenty of reasons that Ogando or Feliz would have been able to neutralize Berkman. Simply looking at the ERAs and xFIPs of each pitcher shows that Holland was the worse of the three pitchers to head to the mound, and Holland did so against someone whose job is to hit left-handed pitching.

Feliz ended up never entering the game, and Washington says it's because the rookie has "never" been asked to get six outs in a game.

"He's never done anything like that," Washington told the Morning News . "I wouldn't do that. I had the people I wanted in the game. They didn't get it done. It happens."

"Never" is a strong word. It means Feliz has never gotten six outs in a game before.

So what happened April 21 and August 10 against the Red Sox and August 13 against these very Yankees? How about 2009, when Feliz joined the team in mid-August as a reliever? He got eight outs once, seven once, six outs six times (of course), five outs twice and four outs four times.

Yes, that was 2009. But he's done it in 2010 as well, against two of the more potent hitting teams, one of which was the opponent Friday night.

Feliz should have entered the game to face Lance Berkman at the latest, holding back Ogando and Holland for extra innings if needed. Given Holland was a starter, he would have been able to go multiple innings if needed. One could argue Feliz should have entered to face Alex Rodriguez.

Instead, he never did. And now Texas is down one game in the ALCS.

-- Evan Brunell

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Posted on: September 16, 2010 4:07 pm
 

Oliver proving a bargain for Rangers

Darren Oliver
According to contract info here, Rangers reliever Darren Oliver vested his 2011 contract at $3.25 million by making his 59th appearance Wednesday night.

Darren Oliver? Wasn't he that mediocre starter Texas had back in the 1990s? Yes, he was. But 17 years and eight teams after making his debut in 1993 (a team that included current Rangers team president Nolan Ryan), Oliver has developed into one of the better left-handed relievers in the game.

Less than a month shy of his 40th birthday, Oliver has a 2.50 ERA in his 59 appearances. More impressively, he has struck batters out at a rate of 9.8 per nine innings and walked just 2.2 per nine. He has struggled in the second half after a brilliant first half (1.36 ERA), but what he's doing for the Rangers is similar to the resurgence Arthur Rhodes has had in Cincinnati.

Oliver spent the past three seasons with the Angels, but over the winter signed on for his third hitch with the Rangers. Texas fans are glad he did.

-- David Andriesen

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