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Friday, January 3, 2014

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: NEFTALI FELIZ AIMING TO RE-GAIN CLOSER JOB

We once again being our look at the approaching 2014 fantasy baseball season but taking another look at the world of the ninth inning in our weekly feature Closing Time.  Let's get to some of the more pertinent news out there.

-With Joe Nathan having signed with the Detroit Tigers as a free agent, it was widely assumed that manager Ron Washington would turn to former All Star closer Joakim Soria as the team's new stopper for 2014.  Now approaching two years since Tommy John surgery, Soria was aiming to re-claim his status as one of the best closers in baseball.  However another former All Star closer on the Texas roster in the form of Neftali Feliz is staking his own claim to the job in recent public comments he made.  With regards to getting his old job back, Feliz exclaimed "It is very important for me," Feliz said of the ninth-inning job. "I have been a closer already. Nobody will take it away from me ... because I want to go back to a World Series and win it. I think this is our year to do it."  Pronouncing himself healthy after two seasons marred by injury, Feliz is ready to go to battle with Soria and to a lesser extent Tanner Scheppers for the ninth inning gig.  Washington himself has not endorsed a candidate as spring training gets closer but in the past he spoke of his admiration for Feliz as his guy to finish games. 

As far as my thoughts are concerned, Soria has to be considered the clear favorite right now given the fact he is healthy and has the most experience in the job.  Scheppers is interesting but I can't see Washington overlooking his lack of experience in the ninth inning and giving him the job over Soria.  However Feliz is a true wild card in this as the former top pitching prospect was very dominant in the role in 2010 and 2011.  This is one situation that clearly needs to be watched once camp begins.

-Former St. Louis Cardinals All Star closer Jason Motte is ramping up his work in order to try and make it back to the team for Opening Day.  Unfortunately for Motte, who is coming back from his own Tommy John surgery, the Cards are all-in on Trevor Rosenthal as their closer for 2014 and rightfully so given hos ridiculously dominant here was there last season down the stretch and into October.  Rosenthal has the look of a top five fantasy baseball closer this season while Motte has pretty much value only in holds leagues.  I think Rosenthal has a shot to be the best closer in the game real soon and it could happen as soon as this season.

More closer news is sure to ramp up as camp approaches so be sure to continue checking back the site on a daily basis. 

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