ARLINGTON -- Neftali Feliz has learned a couple of important lessons about closing that have helped him settle into the role.
First, don't throw long toss every day. Feliz used to do that as a setup reliever, but has stopped throwing so much as a closer. That keeps his arm stronger and allows him to be fresh for back-to-back duties. Feliz pitched two days in a row against the Angels and was still throwing 100 mph in his second appearance on Tuesday night.
Second, approach a one-run lead differently than a 2-3 run lead. With a one-run lead, Feliz comes right at hitters with his best fastball. Feliz threw 14 fastballs in 17 pitches while saving an 8-7 win over the Angels on Tuesday. With a two-to-three-run lead, Feliz has a margin for error and is willing to mix in his secondary pitches.
"That shows he's learning," Washington said. "With a one-run lead, that shows he's not going to get beat with anything less than his best stuff."
Feliz is also far more mentally prepared to be the closer than when he was first thrust into the role early in the season.
"At first, it was a shock when they told me I would be the closer," Feliz said. "Now I know I'm the closer and I can be ready mentally. I know what I need to do to be ready."