The Prize of Surprise: Scott Feldman
My player to watch this season is Scott Feldman. Scott was the Rangers’ Opening Day Starter in 2010, one year removed from winning 17 games for Texas. I chose “Scooter” for his ability to shutdown opposing offenses with his cutter and sinker, his experience in both the rotation and the bullpen, and his desire to do whatever Wash and Mike Maddux ask of him.
When we look at Feldman’s career stats, they are not spectacular at all. 33 wins vs. 33 losses and an ERA of 4.75. However what he does is gives his team a chance to win. He does not give up a lot of big innings, and he only averages 1 home run per 9 innings pitched. Scott doesn’t walk a lot of hitters, nor strike out a lot of hitters. He relies on command, movement of his pitches and changing speeds.
In 2009, Feldman won 17 games and lost 8 with an ERA of 4.08. Not Cy Young material, but winning 17 games in “The Show” is not an easy thing to do. In 2010, he was not healthy. Feldman had a bad knee and it showed in his performance on most nights. He didn’t have the same velocity, command or movement on his pitches, and his ERA ballooned to 5.48. Last year, Scott came back late in the year, and helped the Rangers reach the World Series for the second consecutive time. That last sentence should carry more weight than it does with Ranger fans.
Remember Game 2 of the ALCS last season? The Rangers had a 2-0 lead, and then Derek Holland gave up a 3 run home run to Ryan Raburn. Down 3-2, Wash called on Feldman to keep the deficit at one run, and he did just that. Scott went 4 1/3 innings, giving up only 1 hit and striking out 4. Nelson Cruz hit the home run off of Max Scherzer in the 7th to tie the game, and then hit the walk off grand slam in the 11th. Without Scott Feldman, that grand slam may not happen.
Feldman is a vital cog in the Rangers pitching plans. I’ll take a guy who can win 17 games, pitch in both the rotation and the ‘pen and has had success in the post season.
I believe we are going to get the best Scott Feldman we have ever seen in 2012 for the Rangers. He is going to start the year in the bullpen and be the long relief man, and spot start on occasion. But the biggest thing is that if Texas incurs any injuries in the starting rotation, they can call on Scott Feldman to step in. Feldman thinks he can still be a starter for Texas, and I think so too. If he gets the chance, watch out Texas!