If you were looking for a reason to be happy about Nolan Ryan sticking around the Rangers' front office after all, look no further than the box score from Thursday night's 4-3 win over the Mariners.
While there still seems to be the potential for friction between Ryan and general manager Jon Daniels thanks to the rather awkward hierarchy the Rangers put in place for both men, that's worth it when you've got a system that churns out big league talent on a regular basis. Ryan and Daniels have been able to pull that off on a grand level and at the smaller level seen on Thursday night.
Justin Grimm started the game, pitched four innings and then handed the baton to Joe Ortiz. Ortiz gave way to Tanner Scheppers and Scheppers gave way to Robbie Ross before Joe Nathan capped off five innings of one-run relief work with his third save of the season.
Other than Nathan, all of those pitchers have been drafted and developed by the Rangers and that's a testament to the pitching program that Ryan helped put into place several years ago to help the Rangers develop their own staff after years of spending huge money on the Chan Ho Parks of the world. The best workout regimen in the world is meaningless without good raw materials, though, which is where Daniels and his crew come into play.
There may not be many grand slams on the ledger when it comes to pitchers developed by the Rangers, but there are plenty of singles and doubles of the variety we saw on Thursday night. The depth available to the Rangers on the mound in the last few years is a direct effect of the work that Ryan, Daniels and others have done to turn the farm system into a pipeline of arms for the big club.
Building out a bullpen can be tricky, but it is a lot less tricky when you have a deep bench of good arms to mix and match in hopes of finding a group that can protect leads and keep deficits from growing. Ortiz, Scheppers and Ross aren't world beaters, but they are perfectly useful pitchers to have and far cheaper than any similar veteran would be if the Rangers had to round out their relief corps that way.
This style of team building doesn't work overnight and it isn't without its bumps in the road, but there's little doubt that it is more effective to use free agency and trades to finish things off instead of using them as cornerstones. Thursday night was just the latest example of why that's true.