I had a pretty good arm in high school. Nothing with pro potential, but I threw well
from shortstop and the outfield, and topped out at 86 on the mound.
Earlier tonight, Neftali Feliz struck out the first four big
league batters he faced. The first two
swung through changeups for strike three.
At 90 miles per hour.
The velocity on a change isn’t important per se. The subtraction off the fastball is, and when
you’re able to dial it up at 99-101 like Feliz routinely does, and did tonight,
a changeup at 90-91 can tie a hitter up by completely disrupting his rhythm.
It almost makes me laugh to think that if my fastball could have
tripped a number on the gun like the ones Feliz was clocking with his changeup, I might have played a little
This is not to overlook some really, really good moundwork
by several of Feliz’s teammates, or to ignore the brutal, harsh way that game
got away, in a season that has been extraordinarily short on ninth-inning collapses
and that, despite conventional wisdom that points to 2010 and beyond as when
this club is supposed to contend, is
nonetheless a contending season, four months in, but losses like this do happen
from time to time.
On the other hand, the pitcher who took the mound for the
first time as a big leaguer in the sixth and seventh? They don’t come along like that very often.
Whether tonight’s wrenching loss has a lasting impact on
this team’s 2009 fortunes is something we won’t know for weeks. What we saw from the first reliever Texas ran out to the
hill tonight was impact stuff that’s going to figure in for many, many years,
in a big way.
Feliz (f?-LEEZ), adj.:
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(c) Jamey Newberg