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March 15, 2011

If Neftali Feliz makes the rotation, who closes games?

Much of the pregame conversation with manager Ron Washington this morning centered on a big if, as in who closes games if Neftali Feliz makes the starting rotation.

The right-hander on Monday said his goal is to be a starting pitcher, a different message than he delivered a week earlier. He appears to have all the tools to do it, especially now that he has confidence in two pitches that aren't his terrific fastball.

The Rangers will have to decide if Feliz in the rotation is worth the risk that would be created with someone else closing games. Washington said that he wants an experienced closer, and would expect general manager Jon Daniels to go out and get one.

The top internal candidates would appear to be Mark Lowe and Alexi Ogando. Based on solely spring results, Ogando would be the guy. Daniels might be able to get a closer, but maybe not until the trade deadline. The Rangers could go with the bullpen-by-committee option until June or July.

One thing that was made clear is that Washington likes the Rangers' starting pitching enough to feel confident going forward with Feliz in the bullpen and Matt Harrison, Derek Holland and/or Michael Kirkman in the rotation. That would seem to be Washington's preference, unless Daniels can somehow go get another closer.

-- Jeff Wilson


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Being so close to everyone, how would you handicap things at this time? - Thanks Jeff!

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