Well, that Ryan Dempster trade couldn't have come at a better time. A little over an hour after acquiring the Cubs starter, Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com broke the news that Rangers starter Neftali Feliz will require Tommy John surgery. Based on the recovery time for the surgery, Feliz will miss the rest of this season, and if he does come back next year, it won't be until late in the season.
It's almost ironic that the news of Feliz's surgery comes on trade deadline day. He was part of the package that the Rangers got from the Braves at the trade deadline in 2007 in exchange for Mark Teixeira, and he shot up through the Rangers farm system like a rocket. Feliz made his major league debut for the Rangers in 2009, working out of the bullpen after spending most of his minor league career up to that point as a starting pitcher. He was named the Rangers closer going into 2010, and won the AL Rookie of the Year award. His strikeout rate fell and walk rate rose in 2011, and the Rangers shifted Feliz to the starting rotation for the 2012 season.
Feliz made eight starts this year, striking out 37 and walking 23 in 42 2/3 innings. He was placed on the DL in the middle of May with elbow inflammation, and was pulled from a rehab start on Sunday due to elbow discomfort, and a visit with the Rangers' trainer today determined the need for the surgery.
This is a big loss for a Rangers team that has already lost Colby Lewis for the year with a torn flexor tendon and has Roy Oswalt still struggling with his oft-injured back. The only Rangers starters to stay healthy all year are Yu Darvish and Matt Harrison, and their current rotation consists of those two, former long reliever Scott Feldman, Derek Holland, and the newly acquired Dempster, with Oswalt moving to the bullpen. I'm sure that's not what Jon Daniels had in mind coming into the year, but right now, the Rangers are hanging on for dear life in the AL West after an awful July. A once insurmountable lead is down to just 3.5 games over the A's and four over the Angels, and the Rangers aren't going to coast into October this year.
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