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MJH on accountability
Feliz has had better results over the last week, but he still hasn't "figured it out." And can we please let the "Bengie told him to throw more breaking balls..." explanation behind his results.
Myth 1: Feliz has been better over the last week b/c he realized that he needed to throw more breaking balls...
According to Fangraphs, BEFORE speaking with Bengie, Feliz had thrown a HIGHER % of offspeed pitches this year than he did last year. Bengie's observations were incorrect (unless Bengie decided that he needed to throw even more breaking balls this year than he did last year with Bengie calling pitches). Feliz hasn't changed his approach - he has just produced better results (probably a result of pitching against Seattle and Oakland).
Myth 2: With the Texas bullpen, each game is really a 6-inning contest...
When a team's closer is a liability, the idea that a game is over if leading after 6 doesn't hold up. Feliz has been pretty bad all season and I still don't think he looks like an above-average closer (especially when Adams precedes every Neftali appearance by absolutely dominating the opposing team). With the exception of June, Feliz has K'd 21 and walked 20. That isn't going to get it done.
Myth 3: Feliz has now turned a corner and figured things out...
I don't buy it. Since his blowup a week ago, I have focused exclusively on Neftali's ability to throw pitches where he wants them. Last night, I charted his pitches and labeled a pitch as a "+" if he came within 6 inches of hitting his spot and a "-" if he missed his spot by more than 6 inches.
He threw 20 pitches and came within 6 inches of hitting his spot on 4 of them.4 "+"16 "-"
He scored a -12 overall. The same thing happened during his previous two outings. Pitching against Seattle and Oakland will make anyone (besides Oliver) look like they have figured things out, but missing your spots against good teams doesn't typically work out very well. The fact remains: Feliz does not have command of any of his pitches. On his podcast, Jason Parks said the same thing. I'm paraphrasing, but he basically said that Feliz "has never had good command." Now that the league has realized that the breaking ball is typically just a "show me" pitch, Neftali's inability to locate his fastball has become very problematic.
Closing games isn't that difficult and Feliz has plus stuff, so he will probably convert a decent % of saves. But, especially when playoffs roll around, I am going to feel very uneasy knowing that Texas has a closer who "throws" the ball and just hopes for the best.
Excellent post. Nice work.
There's always a tendency to attribute good results to skill and bad results to lack of skill. I agree that Feliz doesn't appear to have turned the corner and to be dominant. But he is dialing up to 97+ when needed, which will allow him to get away with some lack of location. And it seems to me (no graphs to back this up) that he is locating his breaking ball somewhat better in his last few outings.
My hope is that the cause of his lack of success this year is mostly psychological, not mechanical and not due to hitters figuring him out as you suggest. If it's psychology, then good results can help correct the problem, even if they're mostly due to luck.
I think the truth lies somewhere in between "he has turned the corner" and "he hasn't improved at all, but Oakland and Seattle made him look good". I see some incremental improvment.
With the breaking ball, he certainly doesn't have it all figured out. His command of the pitch has been poor, even of late. But I think his control has been better. He may be missing the glove, but at least he's mostly hitting the stgrike zone with it. This makes it a much more effective "show me" pitch than it was early in the season when it was an almost automatic ball. It's harder for hitters to sit dead-red FB on him now. It's a baby step, but I do see a step in the right direction.
Nice work utb. Not sure I agree with all of your stuff but it is pretty close to dead on if not completely correct.
i'm actually a little disappointed with the post... i was expecting something on par with nefti slaying a hydra with a cut fast ball, or him defeating the Krakken with a 101 mph fastball. Or defeating Megatron with a knee buckling breaking ball...... oh well....
Scooby - you might be right.
Nefti's stuff is so electric that he can get by without locating his pitches. But while his breaking ball is finding its way over the plate, it is rarely a quality strike. He hung numerous breaking balls on Sunday and was fortunate that Matsui yanked one of them foul.
I think that Feliz is ok - but by no means is he anywhere close to dominant. I'm glad to see him having more success as of late; however, I just don't see anything that suggests he is close to regaining form as an above-average closer.
I would have very little confidence in Feliz being able to consistently close out close games against Boston and/or New York when the playoffs roll around.
I agree with Scooby that the breaking ball seems to have improved a bit. Sure, he was throwing it earlier in the year but mostly in low-leverage situations, and it was never close to the zone. At least that was my impression. The one he threw to Matsui wasn't a good pitch, but it induced a swing and I believe it followed a nice fastball, so Matsui was ahead of it and pulled it foul.
You can't say... without June, he has been terrible. That's like saying if I took out player X's best year, his career isn't as good. Obviously, without his best month, his numbers are going to be worse. Taking out a player's most productive time period shouldn't be used as concrete evidence.
If a player only had one good year, yes - it is valid to exclude that year from consideration when discussing his overall effectiveness.
Rivera (excluding his best month): 29 K's; 5 BBPapelbon (excluding best month): 46 K's; 7 BBBell (excluding his best month): 28 K's; 15 BBKimbrel: 67 Ks; 14 BBStoren: 37 Ks; 13 BBWilson: 38 Ks; 23 BBAxford: 46 Ks; 17 BBWalden: 37 Ks; 16 BBValverde: 34 Ks; 19BBFeliz: 21 Ks; 20 BB
Which one of those doesn't fit with the rest?
Yes, you could take out the best AND worst month and see what is left, but I didn't feel like spending that much time on it. I think it is relevant to exclude one statistical outlier when addressing how a player will perform moving forward.
And no matter how you want to look at it, Feliz has not been good all season (even including June).
Good post. I too noticed Neftali Feliz not only missing his spots, but missing them by a wide margin lately. His lack of precision/command could definitely explain his inconcistencies as a 95 mph+ fastball will only get the job inconsistently when the pitcher is not placing it on the corners/commanding it.
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