Stats Point To Staff's Effectiveness

The statistics illustrate improvement within Texas' pitching staff.

Baseball has always been a numbers game.
These numbers mean so much because, more or less, it allows us to apply some tangential measurement to otherwise ineffable feats of greatness.
Numbers are beyond respected in baseball, they are taken for gospel; they are sacred. This is the reason why Barry Bonds, the idea that he could surpass one of those oh-so-vaunted numbers through dishonest means caused a national uproar larger than anything since the Red Scare.
But besides that, the numbers often tell a story. Spurred on by thoughts that Texas was pitching well, unusually well, in fact, I did what any good baseball person would do: I went sleuthing.
The numbers were, in many facets, exceedingly reassuring, despite the fact that it is mid-May, and all of this could be for naught in a couple of months.
Texas’ ERA, at 4.56, would be the second best of the decade if the season ended today, only .03 runs off the lead, a 4.53 mark in 2004.
The staff’s .575 winning percentage is the best since 1999.
The team’s 1.38 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) would be the best mark since 21 years ago, when the 1988 version of the Rangers posted a 1.37 mark.
But the most encouraging statistic is a testament to the staff’s off-season conditioning plan, the brainchild of pitching coach Mike Maddux and Nolan Ryan, designed to extend the role of starters while easing the strain on the bullpen.
In the three years’ Texas has gone to the playoffs, they posted a high number of complete games: 19 in 1996, 10 in 1998 and, something of an exception to the rule, 6 in 1999. (1999 was a nonsensical aberrance; The team gained a playoff berth despite posting a 9.25 ERA.)
In 2009, Texas has already posted four complete games. It is still early, of course, and there will certainly be myriad peaks and valleys before the season is over.
But the numbers, thus far, point to a positive shift in the output of the entire staff, the starting rotation in particular.
Over the three game sweep at the hands of the Tigers, it was, in something of a juxtaposition, the offense that failed, while the starting pitching did at least pretty well.
Despite the losses, the continued (relative) success of the Rangers’ staff should be read as a positive for the team. Because, if this team is in fact called the Texas Rangers, if they play their home games at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, the runs will come.
The pitching has historically been the concern; and, for now at least, the pitching is there. 

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