It’s time to fear Rangers pitching. 145 comments


On Adrian Beltre night, the Rangers sweep the Athletics in a double header on the strength of a brilliant pitching performance from Adrian Sampson.

 

AdrianSampson throws a complete game. On Adrian Beltre night. You can’t make this stuff up.

All of a sudden, the Rangers have pitching.

A team that was either dead last or next-to-last in most pitching categories at the beginning of the year has now slowly made its way to reliable. Even dominating.

How did this happen?

It’s not this “intangible” thing that Jeff Mathis supposedly brings to the table.

In separate articles last week in The Athletic and The Dallas Morning News, Levi Weaver and Evan Grant wrote about this great turnaround.

It’s all on Chris Woodward.

The new Rangers manager noticed his pitchers were, in his words, “the most predictable team in baseball.”

They threw fastballs in fastball counts. Breaking balls in breaking ball counts. Threw the changeup when everyone knew it was coming. The great Warren Spahn said, “Hitting is timing. And pitching is upsetting that timing.” The Rangers weren’t fooling anyone.

So, he went to the Rangers analytical department and asked if the data backed him up. It did. So he decided he would shake things up.

The Rangers were no longer going to be slaves to convention. It was time to get rid of some of these baseball “rules” had been around so long.

When he started implementing his strategy the results were immediate. Rangers pitchers were suddenly upsetting the timing by upsetting the “book.” But, why throw a fastball in a fastball count when everyone knows a fastball is coming?

But first, the pitchers had to buy into it. The only way that was going to happened is results.

Woodward said he was worried an old-school pitcher like Lance Lynn would resist change. But he was one of the first to embrace it. And his results have been remarkable. Adrian Sampson’s turnaround has been remarkable. So has Ariel Jurado.

Only one pitcher, in fact, has been reluctant to accept this new way of pitching.

Drew Smyly.

*****
TODAY’S GAME:

Frankie Montas (7-2, 2.83) vs. Drew Smyly (1-4, 7.93)
Game time: 2:05