Like Bard, Feliz was once a mainstay in the bullpen. During the past two years, the 24-year-old was one of the most dominant closers in baseball, registering 74 regular-season saves and seven postseason saves in that span.
Now, Feliz is also making the transition to the Rangers’ starting rotation. In two starts for Texas this season, he’s panned out nicely for the club, posting a 1-0 record with a 2.25 ERA to go along with seven strikeouts.
From afar, Feliz has monitored Bard’s conversion and believes the 26-year-old is also suited for the starting job.
“I’ve seen him, and he’s in tremendous shape,” Feliz said. “He’s got a good staff around him and strong pitches with a lot of potential. Before anything, it all starts with the desire and hunger to make the transition. Every time you go out there, you have to take advantage.”
Bard certainly capitalized on management’s trust in his last start against the Rays, striking out seven batters and surrendering just one run in 6 2/3 innings. With the gem, he lowered his ERA to 4.63 ERA.
Despite the bright outlook, Feliz cautioned about possible roadblocks in the conversion from the bullpen.
“The challenges are staying healthy for the entire season,” said Feliz, who doesn’t have any pitching restrictions this season. “But he’s a great pitcher. I’m rooting for him, and I’m happy that he’s getting the chance –– like a young pitcher as myself –– to become a starter.”
Bard is still looking for career win No. 1 as a starter. He’ll get another shot on Sunday against the Yankees when he squares off with CC Sabathia at Fenway Park.
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