I sent off some questions to JP Starkey from SB Nation's Dallas area page and he was nice enough answer them for me.
How is Neftali Felix taking to moving to a starting pitcher role from being in the bullpen?
So far, so good from Feliz as a starter. I'll admit, I was a bit concerned during spring training when his shoulder flared up again, considering he spent time on the disabled list last year with a shoulder injury. But in the early going this year, Feliz has been pretty much everything you could expect from him. He's only allowed 12 hits in 20 innings in his three starts this year, and has made it through at least seven innings in two of his three starts.
Of course, it's an extremely small sample size, and there will be drawbacks all year, as the Rangers do plan on skipping him quite a few times throughout the year to limit his innings.To me though, it was absolutely the right choice and I'm glad they're sticking to it, it should continue to work out nicely.
How's Joe Nathan doing as closer? Are Ranger fan confident when they see him coming into a game?
Nathan is tough. For me, the jury is still out on him. On one hand, he's only had one truly disaster outing this year, when he gave up three runs on four hits against the Mariners en route to a loss and a blown save. Aside from that, he's been pretty solid, and for the year has a nice 10/1 SO/BB count.
On the other hand, I worry about him pitching on back-to-back days, and until he continues to prove me wrong there, I'm going to be slightly concerned. April is tough to really draw conclusions from based on sample sizes, and it's even tougher with relievers. Chalk me up as cautiously optimistic that Nathan will do well this year, thanks in large part to his SO/BB ratio on the young year, but my confidence isn't fully there yet.
Has Josh Hamilton's hot start convinced the Rangers to break the bank to sign him? What's your guess for how long and how much of a contract he'll get? Will it be from the Rangers?
I don't know if his hot start will really affect the front office's mindset when it comes to Hamilton. He's certainly been tearing the cover off the ball so far, but we've also just seen one of Hamilton's drawbacks, too -- he had to come out of Sunday night's game because of a tight back. That injury risk is always going to be there with Hamilton, and it's not going to go away as he gets older. We all know what Hamilton can be when he's healthy, which is an MVP candidate. Hamilton's really great start is also aided by a BABIP of over .400, so he'll be coming back to earth in the coming weeks.
Next year, Hamilton will be in his age 32 season. He's a much, much, much better baseball player than Jayson Werth is, and Werth was signed to a seven year, $126 million dollar contract last offseason. My guess is that Hamilton is around that range, but maybe at only six years and a slightly higher AAV. Purely speculation on my part, but if I had to guess, I don't think Hamilton will be back in Texas next year, especially after he said he is unwilling to give the Rangers a hometown discount.
I don't suppose you'd want to give us Mike Napoli back? Maybe we could send you a reliever named Francisco? We happen to have one....
Nope, no refunds on that Napoli deal. At least you guys got rid of Vernon Wells though, right? That's a major win in itself.
Any chance we beat Yu? What would be the best way to attack him?
Yes, there is definitely a chance Toronto can beat Darvish tonight. Darvish's numbers on the surface rule -- he's 3-0 with a 2.42 ERA with 24 SOs in 26 innings. Awesome, right?
Sort of. His WHIP is still very high at 1.58, and he walked four batters in 5.2 innings against both the Mariners and the Twins, and walked five against the Tigers in 6.1 innings. If the Jays want to get to Darvish, they'll have to be patient, let him issue some walks, and drive his pitch count up early. Darvish is very, very fortunate to be 3-0 and have a 2.42 ERA thanks to an 81.4% LOB percentage.
If Darvish is commanding all of his pitches, he's going to be tough to beat -- just like he was against the Yankees last week when he dominated them. The stuff is undoubtedly there, but he has struggled harnessing it. If the command switch is turned on, it'll be really tough for Toronto to come out of Monday night's game with a W...but if it's off and Toronto is patient, then the Jays could easily chase Darvish before the sixth or seventh inning.