Rangers Bullpen Reaching New Heights in Accuracy
When Texas hired former Atlanta Braves ace Greg Maddux to be a special assistant to GM Jon Daniels the Rangers pitchers couldn't hide their excitement.
What could he teach them?
How could he make them better?
In a brilliant career with the Braves, Maddux was known quite simply as the most accurate pitcher in baseball.
If a hitter took a walk against Maddux then he really had accomplished something because the guy never and I mean never walked hitters.
His philosophy was simple, pitch in the strikezone and let them hit the ball, but no free passes would be acceptable, after all, nothing gets a pitcher in trouble more than a walk or two in an inning.
Rangers pitchers undoubtedly heard Maddux preaching this method of pitching all through Spring Training in Arizona and to their credit, appear to have embraced pitching within the strike zone as opposed to trying to get the hitter to chase out of the zone as they have in the past.
Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux has been trying to get his pitchers to do this for years now, and he had certainly made strides recently, telling his pitchers a perfect inning wasn't three strikeouts on nine pitches, but instead was three outs on three pitches.
Perhaps it's all the Cy Young awards in Greg Maddux's trophy case that has woken up these Rangers pitchers, but they are pitching much better this season, especially in the bullpen.
The Rangers have three relievers who have not allowed a walk at all this season, none.
Alexi Ogando, Mike Adams and Koji Uehara have combined to throw 35 1/3 innings so far this season and have zero walks and 32 strikeouts.
Ogando and Adams are not exactly shocking as they are both just picking up where they left off last year, but the turnaround of Uehara has been the story of the season so far from the Rangers bullpen and he's doing it by using the strikezone to get ahead of the hitter and getting them to chase his splitter.
It's the Uehara the Rangers thought they were getting last year at the deadline and if both Uehara and Lowe continue to pitch well the Rangers will have something that is very rare; a bullpen without a single hole an opposing team could try and exploit in the right situation.
The Rangers also have four relievers with a WHIP less than 1.00 in rookie Robbie Ross, Adams, Ogando and Uehara.
The remaining relievers aren't exactly struggling either as long man Scott Feldman is the only one without truly stellar numbers.
All of this stems from the most basic fundamental there is in pitching, throw strikes and make the hitter try and hit your pitch.
It only took one of the most accurate pitchers in the history of baseball to get that point across to the Rangers pitchers in a visit to Spring Training.