As if having Nolan Ryan as a non-coaching "staff" member to bounce idea off of wasn't enough, the Texas Rangers added another pitching master to their arsenal this spring as one of the all-time greats was added as a special assistant and has been on hand for all of the spring training games.
Greg Maddux, a 300-game winner who is also the brother of Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux, has been lending his advice to the Rangers' pitching staff this spring, and that was the case with Scott Feldman prior to his start on Monday.
Maddux, who was known as one of the great locators in baseball history and was great despite not touching 90 mph on the radar, preached to Feldman to not focus on striking guys out, but instead forcing ground balls, which is what Feldman was so successful at in 2009 when he won 17 games.
"He was telling me, 'Don't every try to throw guys out. We want to try to get ground balls,'" Feldman told ESPN Dallas. "He told me that's what he did. I was trying to throw as many strikes as I could, get ahead of guys. He told me strikeouts happen pretty much by accident, and that's what happened [Monday]. I guess there's a reason he won a lot of games."
I guess so.
There's a stat-geek, sabremetric theory that if a pitcher's strikeout per nine innings ratio is fewer than around 6 or 7, he's not going to be a sustainable commodity. One or two good seasons might be in his future, but not a career. Feldman qualifies in that area (5.0 K/9).
Maddux's advice on Monday clearly didn't ring through to Feldman, who struck out nine batters in six scoreless innings that night, but you get the feeling the advice made an impression on Feldman, who has proven he knows how to win multitudes of games in the big leagues as he showed in 2009.