Nearly all of the talk from Rangers camp this spring has centered around the pitching staff, or the center field battle. We've heard plenty about Yu Darvish and his transition to Major League Baseball, and we've also heard plenty about Neftali Feliz, achy shoulder and all, and his transition to the starting rotation.
We haven't heard that much about Scott Feldman, though, and he could end up being a big part of the 2012 Texas Rangers.
Feldman was a 3.5 WAR pitcher in 2009, before signing an extension prior to the 2010 season. Feldman regressed in 2010, as his ground ball percentage went down, and his ERA, FIP and xFIP went up. After undergoing microfracture surgery during the 2010-11 offseason, he lost his spot in Texas' rotation while he was rehabbing.
Currently, Feldman is slated for a long relief/ spot starter role on Texas' staff. Feldman could end up seeing a fair number of starts this year, as the club wants to limit the amount of innings Feliz throws. Of course, Feliz is already having shoulder problems, so it's entirely possible that Feldman will end up in the starting rotation to begin the season, if Feliz isn't ready to go.
Anyway, I've said it repeatedly that spring training stats are, for the most part, meaningless. Still, you like to see a player perform well. Feldman has performed well this spring, striking out 20 in 20 innings of work, while walking only two batters and giving up 20 hits. Feldman is also coming off an excellent start -- on Monday, he pitched six innings, giving up just three hits while striking out nine against the Cincinnati Reds.
Is Feldman going to be on anybody's Cy Young ballot? Of course not. But Feldman could end up playing a big role in Texas' success this year, pitching out of the bullpen and covering for injuries and Feliz' innings pitched total in the rotation. He certainly has been successful before, and if he's fully recovered from his 2010 microfracture surgery, then he could be in line for a very solid 2012.