Hall of pitching fame pitcher and Rangers special assistant Greg Maddux recently joined the Ticket Top 10 on 96.7 FM/1310 The Ticket [KTCK-AM] to discuss the Rangers pitchers, the new pitch clock and what makes his brother Mike such a good pitching coach.
Here are some of the highlights, edited for clarity.
What do you think of the Rangers pitchers and who your brother is working with?
Maddux: “Well, the arms are phenomenal, I think I told him don’t screw them up man, they can throw. So you know they got those three elite pitchers, if we can get those guys to make their starts I think Texas is in for a very nice season this year.”
Are you on board with the new rules changes, specifically the pitch clock?
Maddux: “I’m okay with the pitch clock. You know, it does help speed the game up. The only thing that I’m kind of a little worried about is you can only throw over twice to first base and the third time if you don’t record an out it’s a balk. That’s making it a little bit too easy on the offensive to produce more runs, I think. I don’t see what’s wrong with trying to hold the runner on first base a little bit better than they’re going to allow the pitchers to do this year.”
Mike had a great run here the first time as a pitching coach. What makes him such a good pitching coach?
Maddux: “Well, pitching coach, that’s it. He teaches his players how to pitch. He does his homework, does a very good scouting report on the hitters, he understands his pitchers’ strengths and weaknesses and tries to have them pitch off their strengths more so than the hitter’s weaknesses. He’s a good communicator and knows his stuff. I mean, flat out knows the league, knows the hitters. He can read scouting reports and adjust to how it fits his pitchers best for that given night.”
Do we put too big of an emphasis on velocity when it comes to pitching?
Maddux: “I think that velocity will get you drafted, I really do. I think the harder you throw, the better, like hitting a golf ball, the further you hit it, the more potential you have. But once you are drafted, you have to learn how to pitch. You have to be able to change speeds, you have to be able to locate and you have to be able to throw a strike when you need to. I think the spin rates and the velocity are good measuring devices to help evaluate pitching but I know to pitch in the big leagues, you’re gonna have to be able to locate your fastball and change speeds. You’re gonna have to pitch in the strike zone as well as out of it. And that’s kind of what these pitchers have to learn how to do.”
Have you seen the translation between fewer pitch counts and fewer injuries, or do you think you think that ever may turn around again?
Maddux: “Well, that’s a really hard question to answer. I know, when I came up, we were trying to throw, you know, 200 plus innings, the generation before us were throwing 300 innings. Now they’re down to about 180. It’s just kind of been the norm of the game. I think it is easier. Well, I know, from experience, it’s a lot harder to get the guys out the third and fourth at-bat than it is the first and second. And baseball has kind of changed where the bullpens have been elevated to handle the last three innings of the game. And we were taught to finish our games, and they’re taught now to keep the team in the game and let the bullpen finish it. So it’s just the way it is I think. I don’t really see it going back a whole lot. There might be a couple of guys that sneak in there with 200-plus innings this year, but it’ll probably just be a handful.”
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