Texas Rangers' young starters showing youth during rough stretch

Posted Friday, May. 04, 2012  comments  Print Reprints
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Neftali Feliz couldn't fix a mechanical issue with his delivery. Matt Harrison lost his feel on off-speed pitches.

There is no correlation between their starts Tuesday and Wednesday other than they produced similar results as the Texas Rangers lost consecutive games for the first time this season against the Toronto Blue Jays.

The young rotation is enduring a rough stretch as the starters have posted a 6.00 ERA the past nine games. All this after the Rangers' rotation got off to a 10-0 start, the best in team history.

"We've had a couple rough ones here, but no reason for concern," pitching coach Mike Maddux said. "You just have to get back and right the ship. You have to understand why you pitched well in your wins and repeat the good habits."

Maddux is a believer in positive reinforcement. He doesn't like pitchers watching film of their subpar outings and trying to see what to fix. Instead, he'd rather have them watch a previous start in which they did everything right.

The problem for Feliz on Tuesday was his inability to repeat his delivery. It proved costly as he issued six walks and threw 88 pitches in five innings.

"One thing you really have to do as a starter is stay in your delivery," Maddux said. "He got out of his delivery."

As far as Harrison, Maddux felt he had a taxing 31-pitch third inning that affected his fourth. The Rangers' offense saw only eight pitches in the top of the fourth, which led to a short break for Harrison.

He didn't make it through the fourth and became the first member of the regular rotation to last less than five innings. Scott Feldman made a 31/3-inning spot start against New York on April 25.

"Harry got a 20-second time out," Maddux said. "He was out there battling his tail off and I thought it was more arm weary than anything."

Derek Holland has allowed 12 runs in his past two starts. He doesn't view them as great outings, but he did last longer in the games than he would have last season.

Maddux is quick to point out, though, that these are youthful problems that every young pitcher runs into. Harrison is 26, Holland is 25 and Feliz turned 24 on Wednesday. With the Rangers' postseason success the past two seasons, Maddux knows the young in young and talented can get overlooked and forgotten because of the moments all three have found themselves in.

"They've done a lot of big things in a young time," Maddux said. "If they're making these same mistakes in their 30s, well shame on us. We should know better. We'll make physical mistakes but it's the mental mistakes we can't make."

Manager Ron Washington would like to see his starters perform at a high level the entire season but knows that's not realistic. They are going to struggle over stretches of a season in which they make 30 to 35 starts.

"It's not always going to be the way you want it," Washington said. "When it doesn't go the way you want it, you've got work to do. We'll continue to work and we continue to have confidence in them."

Catcher Mike Napoli echoed Washington's comments, and knows the young starters are reeling but are also a big reason why the Rangers are off to a 17-8 start.

"Without them, it doesn't get done," Napoli said. "It's going to be our pitching that takes us where we need to go."

Last nine starts

Starter

Opponent

Innings pitched

Runs

Hits

Strikeouts

Walks

Result

Harrison

Toronto

3.1

8

8

3

2

L

Feliz

Toronto

5

4

4

4

6

ND

Darvish

Toronto

7

1

4

9

2

W

Holland

Tampa Bay

7

5

9

8

2

L

Lewis

Tampa Bay

6

1

3

5

3

W

Harrison

Tampa Bay

5

7

14

3

1

L

Feldman

New York

3.1

2

6

3

1

ND

Darvish

New York

8.1

0

7

10

2

W

Holland

New York

6

7

9

1

4

L

Drew Davison, (817) 390-7760

Twitter: @drewdavison

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