For all that has gone wrong with the Texas Rangers in 2017, acquiring Andrew Cashner is clearly something that has worked out.
Cashner, who signed as a free agent in January, has the second-lowest ERA among Rangers’ starters behind Yu Darvish. Cashner (4-8, 3.58 ERA) makes his 16th start for the Rangers on Saturday against the Tampa Bay Rays’ Chris Archer (7-5, 3.91).
A former TCU standout, Cashner has gone at least six innings in 10 of his 15 starts. The right-hander has allowed four or more runs in just four starts and hasn’t allowed more than five in any start. He’s become a more than sturdy back of the rotation starter the club hoped he would be.
Although he no longer strikes out as many hitters (he struck out 10.1 batters per nine innings in 2012), the Conroe product has been better at pitching to his strengths.
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“It’s not anything new to him, but there comes a time you kind of look at who you are and what you can do,” manager Jeff Banister said. “I mean a 94-95 [mph] fastball is still pretty solid. He has enough to still get by hitters, and he’s aggressive in the strike zone.”
But now, at 30, he’s just as content to pitch to contact with his sinker, a pitch that has been especially effective for him this season.
“I have a really good feel for my sinker right now,” said Cashner, who has allowed three earned runs combined over past two starts (13 2/3 innings). “I’ve had some good streaks in my career. My sinker is a feel pitch and when I have a good feel I have a ton of confidence and it’s just about keeping it rolling.”
He has pitched inside to both sides of the plate a little more frequently, Banister said.
“He’s hunting ground-ball contact for double-play balls. He’s been able to pitch and eliminate hitters in that three pitch or less mentality, whether it’s on the ground or via strikeout.”