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Scott Wynne Feldman (born February 7, 1983, in ) is a Major League Baseball right-handed starting pitcher for the Texas Rangers.

After going 25–2 in his first two years of college baseball, he was drafted in the 30th round by the Rangers in 2003. Feldman had Tommy John surgery later that year. He followed it up with a minor league career in which he had a 2.70 ERA, and held batters to only 6.6 hits per 9 innings, pitching almost exclusively in relief.

After pitching out of the bullpen while bouncing back and forth between Texas and its Triple-A affiliate in 2005–07, Feldman converted to a starter in 2008. He established himself in 2009 with a breakout season for the Rangers.

Early life and high school

The 6' 5" Feldman was big from an early age. His father recalled with a chuckle: "His second-grade teacher made a comment to my wife that it was like 'Alice in Wonderland,' because Scott was always too big for his seat."

As for Feldman's road to the major leagues, "The dream started off like any other kid," Feldman said. "You’d think about it as you were watching games in front of the TV, and you’d think about it playing in the neighborhood park with your friends. You always hope, but you just don’t know if it’s ever going to happen."

His father, Marshall, an FBI agentmarker who grew up in a Pennsylvania coal mining town and played college baseball at Duquesne, coaching Feldman in youth baseball in North California.

Feldman attended Burlingame High Schoolmarker in Burlingame, Californiamarker, where he pitched a no-hitter. He was known more for his hitting than his pitching during high school. A left-handed hitter, Feldman led the Peninsula Athletic League in batting average as a junior, and nearly matched the feat as a senior. He was also overweight; at one point in high school he was up to 265 pounds.

College

He lost 40 pounds before the start of his freshman year at the College of San Mateomarker, and ended up walking on to the team without a college scholarship. There, in two seasons he went 25–2 (his only losses coming in the state "final four"), with a 1.30 ERA and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 8-to-1. "When Feldman pitched," said Bulldogs coach Doug Williams, "the game was 95% over." He earned Coast Conference Pitcher of the Year honors both as a freshman in 2002 and as a sophomore in 2003, and was also an All American both years. "He has a gift," Williams said.

Picked in the 41st round (the 1,241st pick overall) of the 2002 Major League Baseball Draft by the Houston Astros, he did not sign. He was then drafted again, in the 30th round (886th overall) of the 2003 Draft by the Texas Rangers, 13 rounds behind future teammate Ian Kinsler, and this time he signed with the Rangers after they offered him "6th-round money."

Minor leagues

Feldman underwent reconstructive elbow surgery for a torn ulnar collateral ligament, also known as "Tommy John surgery", in October 2003. It limited him to four appearances in 2004 for the Arizona League Rangers in the Arizona League, in which he pitched seven scoreless innings.

He began the 2005 season with the Single-A Bakersfield Blaze, but after nine scoreless innings in relief was quickly promoted to the Double-A Frisco RoughRiders.

On July 28, Feldman and two teammates combined for a perfect game, as the RoughRiders defeated the Corpus Christi Hooks 3–0. It was only the third nine-inning perfect game in the Texas League's 117-year history, and the first combined one. Feldman was tasked with getting the last three outs, and with two outs in the ninth he let the count get to 3–1. "I was just telling myself, 'Don't walk him,'" Feldman said. "Once it got to 3-1, I threw it right down the middle. If they got a hit, they got a hit. But they're not going to break up a perfect game on a walk." The batter grounded out. On July 31, the three pitchers shared the Texas League Pitcher of the Week Award.

With the RoughRiders, he held opposing batters to a .202 batting average in 46 relief appearances, led the team with 14 saves (which tied for fifth-most in the league), and had a 2.36 ERA. For the 2005 season, between the two teams he had a 2.06 ERA and 17 saves in 52 appearances, all in relief. Baseball America tabbed him as having the best control of all minor league pitchers in the Rangers' organization.

Prior to the 2006 season, MLB.com beat reporter T.R. Sullivan opined that Feldman was the Rangers' top minor league relief prospect. In 2006, in 23 relief appearances for the Rangers' Triple-A affiliate, the Oklahoma RedHawks, he had a 1.98 ERA, and in 2007 in 21 relief appearances for the team he had a 4.50 ERA. Later in 2007, he pitched in the Arizona Fall League, to work on a new three-quarters delivery.

In 2008, as the Rangers decided to convert Feldman to a starter, he started and won a game for Frisco, taking a perfect game into the fifth and a no-hitter into the seventh ("For my first start, it was a lot of fun," Feldman said). He also started and won the two games that he pitched for Oklahoma.

Overall, through 2008 Feldman had a minor league career ERA of 2.70 in 153.1 innings in 105 games (all but 6 as a reliever), and gave up on average only 6.6 hits per every 9 innings.

Major leagues

Texas Rangers (2005–present)

2005: Breaking in

Feldman was a late-season call-up in 2005. The first time he walked into the Rangers’ locker room was with a sense of awe: "The night before, I didn’t sleep a minute. I didn’t know what to expect, but when I walked in, I saw a lot of the guys I had seen on TV all these years, and was like, 'Holy cow, I’m in the big leagues.'"

He made his major league debut against the Chicago White Sox on August 31, 2005. In 8 relief appearances with the Rangers, he compiled a record of 0–1, with an ERA of 0.91 in 9.1 innings of work.

2006: Brawl

Towards the end of the spring training in 2006, Feldman was feeling confident that he was going to make the parent club's 25-man roster. A week before opening day he was called into Manager Ron Washington's office. But instead of telling Feldman he had made the team, for the first 10 minutes Washington and the team's pitching coach spoke on and on about how Feldman had had a solid spring training — but needed to work on some things. Feldman couldn't believe it, but eventually thought, "Holy smoke, I’m going down [to the minors]." Suddenly, unable to continue the prank any longer, Washington burst out laughing. "Pack your bags rookie, you’re coming with us!" he said.

During the regular season, Feldman bounced back and forth between the Rangers and Oklahoma.

The national spotlight shone briefly on Feldman on August 16, 2006, when he sparked a bench-clearing brawl in the ninth inning of a game between the Rangers and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Tensions between the two division rivals were already high, as two Rangers starting pitchers — Adam Eaton and Vicente Padilla — had been ejected in previous games that month for throwing at Angels batters, along with Texas manager Buck Showalter. Prior to Feldman taking the mound, on a night with a game-time temperature of 101 degrees, two Angels pitchers (Kevin Gregg and Brendan Donnelly) had already been thrown out of the game for hitting Rangers batters, and Angels' manager Mike Scioscia and acting manager/bench coach Ron Roenicke had been ejected as well.

Feldman hit Angels second baseman Adam Kennedy in the buttocks with a fastball with only one out remaining in the game, and the Rangers up 9–3. Kennedy charged the mound, as the 6' 5" Feldman stood atop it and threw down his glove. When Kennedy reached him, triggering a fight between Feldman and the light-hitting 6' 1" Kennedy, Feldman hit Kennedy in the armpit with a punch. An announcer describing the fight said, '[Feldman] even punches like he throws — sidearm and under-hand.'" "I didn't charge him," Feldman said in his defense. "I couldn't just stand there." Feldman was suspended for six games. As to others' reactions, Feldman said: "Everybody is telling me to take boxing lessons."

In 36 relief appearances in 2006, he had an ERA of 3.92. In games that were late and close, Feldman did not give up any hits while facing 16 batters.
Feldman pitching in April 2007


2007: First win

Feldman was in the Rangers' 2007 spring training camp, and won the final spot in the Texas bullpen. He picked up his first Major League victory on April 11 in his 47th big-league appearance. "I'll always remember it, no doubt about it," Feldman said.

He was sent down, however, on May 1. That began a trend, as he was called up and send down five more times during the season.

He made some changes in his delivery in September. Instead of throwing sidearm, he raised his arm angle and threw from a three-quarters delivery, which pitching coach Mark Connor observed gave him more sink on his fastball and downward movement on his breaking ball. "This has a chance to be pretty good," Connor said. "He was busting his fastball 94–95, the ball was sinking, and his four-seamer was cutting."

He was 1-2 for the season, with a 5.77 ERA in 29 games. He held the first batter he faced in each game to a .160 batting average, and his "ground ball:fly ball ratio" of 1.39 was the highest on the team.

2008: Conversion to starter

In spring training in 2008, Feldman changed his release point, and used the three-quarter delivery that he had begun to use late in 2007. Manager Ron Washington noted: "It makes his ball heavier, and his movement a little more pronounced."

In late March, he was one of three pitchers vying for one long relief spot on the team, though the Rangers also began experimenting with converting him to be a starter. General Manager Jon Daniels observed: "Toward the end of spring training something clicked with his new [three-quarter] arm slot." On March 22, despite Feldman's success with his new, higher arm angle, the Rangers optioned him to Oklahoma, where he was a starter. In April he bounced back and forth between Texas and Frisco.

In his first Major League start, on April 13, he allowed three runs in six innings and did not receive a decision. "Feldman was outstanding," manager Washington said. "He hung in there and battled." Feldman recorded his first major league hit on June 13 against Óliver Pérez of the New York Mets.

On August 13, against the Boston Red Sox, he allowed a franchise-record 10 runs in the first inning. He also became the first major league pitcher in 90 years to give up at least 12 runs in a game and not take the loss (the prior one being Gene Packard of the St. Louis Cardinals on August 3, 1918).

T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com wrote towards the end of the season: "He's going to win the bronze medal for innings pitched on the Rangers this season.... He has exceeded all expectations, and his lack of history as a starter makes it difficult to figure where this great experiment is headed." General Manager Daniels noted: "Feldman has really saved our pen this year, and he wasn't a guy we were counting on in the beginning of the season." The Rangers kept trying to shut him down in the season's final month to limit his innings, but never did because other Texas pitchers kept getting hurt.

For the season, he was 6-8 in 25 starts and 3 relief appearances, over 151.1 innings — just two innings fewer than he had pitched in his entire minor league career. He also led the Rangers' pitching staff in quality starts (13), quality start percentage (52%), strikes looking (29%), "grounded into double plays" (24), and "grounded into double play rate" (21%). His 13 unearned runs tied for the third-highest total in the AL.

During the off-season, club president Nolan Ryan emphasised conditioning for the Rangers pitchers. Feldman and nine other of the team's top young pitchers were brought to Arlington in November for a week-long conditioning camp. "It's different," Feldman said. "In the past, it was a little more of 'this is what you need to do, now go out and do it.' Most guys would do it, but this is their way of overseeing it and making sure everybody is ready."
Feldman in April 2009


2009: Breakout season

As the Rangers' middle relief became a concern during spring training, it was decided that Feldman would begin 2009 as a reliever, and Kris Benson would start for Texas. "Feldman makes us a better team in the bullpen," explained Washington. "He goes down there with better stuff than he had before." Feldman, for his part, admitted to being disappointed about his move from the rotation to the pen.

Within a month Benson was injured, however, and Feldman took his place in the rotation on April 25. "I'm excited," said Feldman. "I love starting." He pitched well using a new full windmill windup, rather than the compact delivery he had used before, and remained in the rotation thereafter. In early May, Washington noted: "He has real life on his fastball, his slider is harder than it has been, his breaking ball is much crisper, and he's getting a good feel for his changeup. He's got four pitches he can throw over the plate."

Feldman began the 2009 season 5–0. He sported better mechanics and a different repertoire (a new and improved cut fastball), threw 1–2 mph harder, and kept the ball down — forcing more ground balls. "Scott Feldman has been great since we put him in the starting rotation," said Manager Washington. "He always does what you need him to do, keep you in the ballgame."

At the All Star break, despite not having moved into the starting rotation until nearly a month into the season, Feldman was 8–2, led the AL in won-lost percentage (.800), and was 9th in hits per nine innings (7.75) and walks + hits per inning pitched (1.18). On July 20, Nolan Ryan opined that, taking into consideration Feldman's age and the fact that he had changed his arm angle only two years prior, "he's going to get better."

On July 25, Feldman outpitched Kansas City All Star and AL ERA leader Zack Greinke with eight innings of four-hit, shutout ball, leading the Rangers to a 2–0 victory. "Feldman matched the best pitcher in baseball," Washington said. "I’m so happy for him. Two pitchers went at it pretty good, and our's won the battle." The eight innings were Feldman’s major-league high, as he mixed in a changeup, curveball, and slider with his fastball.

As of the end of July, opposing batters were hitting .228 against Feldman (and only .217 in his starts), the fourth-lowest batting average in the league — the only three pitchers who kept opposing batters to lower batting averages were Edwin Jackson (.216), Matt Garza (.222), and Jarrod Washburn (.224). In his starts through the end of July he had a 3.04 ERA, and 12 of his 17 starts were quality starts.

After he beat the Mariners on short (three days') rest at the beginning of August for the team lead in wins, Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu said: "I thought Feldman was awfully tough. I have seen this kid, and he gets better every year. I think you have to tip your hat."

As of mid-August, Feldman had the most effective cut fastball in all of baseball in 2009 — more effective even than those of Mariano Rivera and Roy Halladay. And it was the third-most-effective pitch in the major leagues, behind only Tim Lincecum’s change-up and Clayton Kershaw’s fastball. While in 2008 he used his cutter 13.4% of the time, in 2009 he was throwing it 30.4% of the time. The only starting pitchers who were throwing cutters more often were Brian Bannister, Doug Davis, and Halladay.

The press began to take notice. On August 14 Matthew Berry of ESPN noted that: "since April 25, when Scott Feldman ... rejoined the Rangers' rotation, only Justin Verlander has more wins than Feldman's 12." And two days later, Phil Rogers wrote for The Chicago Tribune: "Scott Feldman is creeping into consideration for the bottom of Cy Young ballots."

On August 23, Feldman threw 7 shutout innings in a victory over the Tampa Bay Rays, allowing only four hits, to improve to 13–4 on the season. The win put the Rangers two games up on the Rays in the AL wild card standings, and one game behind the Red Sox. His 13th win tied him for third in the AL, only 1 victory behind league-leaders Josh Beckett and CC Sabathia. It was Feldman's 9th road win of the season (bringing him to 9–1 on the road), tying him with Sabathia for best in the AL. His career-high 11 strikeouts were the most by a Ranger since Matt Perisho struck out 12 in 1999 (see video of parts of Feldman's 11 strikouts). Commenting on Feldman's last strikeout, Carlos Peña said: "I was on second base, and I saw a pitch that he made to B. J. [Upton], and I was like, 'Wow.' I thought to myself, 'That's unhittable right there.'" Rays manager Joe Maddon called Feldman's performance "the best-pitched game against us all year", despite the fact that his team had been the victim of a perfect game by Mark Buehrle earlier in the season.
Feldman mound conference; April 2009


On August 29, he again held the opposition scoreless, this time the Twins for 5.2 innings in a 3–0 victory. "His ball was definitely moving all over the place, with a great breaking ball," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He throws a nasty cutter, and the ball sinks. He was tough on us." It was good for his 14th win of the season (tied for second in the AL behind Sabathia), raising his record to 14–4. His cutter was more dominant than any other thrown over a single season since Baseball Info Solutions first began collecting cutter data in 2004.

On September 4, he extended his scoreless streak to 18.1 innings before giving up a run to the Baltimore Orioles in the sixth inning at Camden Yardsmarker; that was the only run he gave up over 6.2 innings in a 5–1 win, to bring his record to 15–4. It was also his 11th road victory (matching the club record held by Rick Helling (1998) and Padilla (2008)), and he matched the club record set by Bobby Witt (1990) with his 7th consecutive road win of the season. Evan Grant, writing for D Magazine, asked rhetorically: "At some point, RHP Scott Feldman is going to have to enter the Cy Young Award conversation, isn’t he?"

On September 9, Feldman threw 7 innings of shutout ball against the Cleveland Indians, leading Texas to a 10–0 win. He struck out 5, while giving up 5 singles, raising his record to 16-4, and tieing Sabathia and Verlander for the AL lead in victories. He became the first Rangers pitcher to win 16 games since Kevin Millwood in 2006. It was his seventh win in a row, eighth straight road victory (a new Texas record), and 12th road win overall in 2009 (another new club record, and tops in the AL). "I'm not doing anything different on the road than I am at home," said Feldman, who had allowed only one run in the last 26.1 innings. "The preparation is the same. I think it's a pretty humbling game, so you can't get too high or too low." He became the first Rangers right-hander to allow just one run over four consecutive starts. Outfielder Marlon Byrd said: "When you have your ace on the mound, you expect to win. You get a couple of runs early, and you feel you have a 'W' in hand. He has been unbelievable this year when he steps on the mound.... He just keeps getting better."

The Boston Herald reported: "Scott Feldman started the season in the bullpen. He'll end it as a Cy Young award candidate." Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune referred to him as " an under-the-radar Cy Young candidate." And Jennifer Floyd Engel of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram wrote: "Is there a more likable "stud player" on any of the locals than Scott Feldman? Dude is amazing, wins freakishly a lot on the road, is Boy Scout-ishly dependable, has been an ace on what is really a pretty good staff, and is humble as hell. He’s certainly deserving to be in Cy Young conversations." Manny Navarro of The Miami Herald also referred to him as a Cy Young Award candidate.

As of September 10, he was leading the AL in won-lost percentage (.800), tied with Sabathia and Verlander for the league lead in wins (16), had the 3rd-lowest "slugging percentage against" (.359; behind Felix Hernandez and Greinke), was tied for 4th in double plays induced (20), and had the 7th-lowest "OPS-against" (.670). Feldman was holding lefties to a .220 batting average, and as a starter he had kept batters to the 2nd-lowest batting-average-against on balls that they had put in play (.261) among AL starters (behind only Washburn), had the 4th-best ERA in the league (3.10; behind Greinke, Hernandez, and Halladay), was tied for the 4th-lowest batting-average-against (.236), had stranded the 5th-highest percentage of runners (78.3%), and had the 5th-highest ground ball/fly ball ratio (1.48). He had the most effective cutter of all major league starters, and had thrown it 33% of the time (behind only Brian Bannister (52%) and Halladay (42%) among AL starters). Feldman had also pitched at least five innings in all but one of his 26 starts in 2009. As of mid-September, Feldman's cutter was still the third-most-effective pitch in the major leagues, behind only Tim Lincecum’s changeup and Randy Wolf’s fastball.

Pitching

Feldman is a three-quarters pitcher with a sinker, a low-to-mid-90s fastball, a hard slider with extreme downward movement, a curve, a changeup, and a cut fastball.

Since September 2007, when he raised his arm angle from sidearm to three-quarters, his sinker has had more bite, and he has also developed his cut fastball. Both pitches come in on the same level and at the same speed, but they have late break in different directions — the cutter goes in on lefties, while the sinker drops down and away on them. In August 2009 a scout described him has having three "above-average pitches," and a "filthy" cutter.

Personal life

As of March 2007, Feldman was one of 13 Jewish baseball players in the major leagues, along with teammate Ian Kinsler. He was featured in the edition of Jewish Major Leaguers Baseball Cards, licensed by Major League Baseball, commemorating the Jewish major leaguers from 1871 through 2008. He joined, among others, Kinsler, Brad Ausmus, Kevin Youkilis, Ryan Braun, Gabe Kapler, Jason Marquis, John Grabow, Craig Breslow, Scott Schoeneweis, and Jason Hirsh.

Feldman was also in 2007 one of 32 players born in Hawaii to have made it to the majors.

See also

List of major league baseball players who had Tommy John surgery

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