Jake Diekman has been off lately and the Texas Rangers think they know why.
Diekman, who has allowed three hits, walked three and struck out two in his past three appearances, said his East-West delivery, which is unconventional compared to most pitchers, has recently gone a little too East.
He’s watched video of himself from the last month of 2015 and during a stretch this season from May 11 through June 18 when he had a string of 14 2/3 scoreless innings to detect differences.
In short, manager Jeff Banister said Diekman’s cross-body delivery has recently become a little too extreme.
I feel like the change I need to make is very, very microscopic.
Rangers reliever Jake Diekman
“I feel like the change I need to make is very, very microscopic,” said Diekman, who is 4-2 with a 2.85 ERA. “We’ve watched a ton of video last night and this morning. It’s just something I need to keep up on. I can get too much East. You still have to go towards home.”
Diekman got ahead of Astros outfielder Teoscar Hernandez 0-2 Friday night, but walked him.
“Poor,” said Diekman, describing his past few outings. “I was doing it [in May and June] but we didn’t change anything because I was rolling. Now that I haven’t had the great two or three outings, it’s under the microscope more, which I completely agree with.”
Banister said Diekman is not missing by much.
2.85 Jake Diekman’s ERA in 47 1/3 innings this season. Five of his 19 walks have come in his past nine appearances, including one each in his past three.
“His strike-ability is either really good or just on the edge,” he said. “Normally, he’s a pretty decent strike thrower who is able to get ahead and put hitters away. It just seems like he’s just a margin away from where he normally is. Very close.”
Diekman feels good, he said. He’s dealt with similar issues before.
“It takes one good outing,” Diekman said. “Hopefully straighten out my mechanics in the direction towards the plate. I’m just blocking myself off too much right now. I’m getting tight where I should not get tight. It’ll be an easy fix.”
Yu Darvish starts Sunday’s finale against the Astros looking to improve on eight consecutive quality starts. The right-hander, however, won’t be satisfied unless it’s a shutout. The last time he had a scoreless outing was at Houston on Aug. 7.
“I’ll be satisfied when I put all zeroes on the scoreboard. Until then, I’ve still got work to do,” he said.
Catcher Jonathan Lucroy was scratched from Saturday’s lineup with flu-like symptoms. Banister said the move was precautionary to use Robinson Chirinos.
“He’s good,” he said. “There’s no need to push it. Robbie is quite capable so I decided to make that change.”
Gold medal pitch
Gold medal gymnast and Dallas native Madison Kocian threw out the first pitch Saturday. Before the game, she met Rangers players, including Adrian Beltre, who gave her a signed bat. Her first-pitch windup included a handstand.
Her dad was attending a Rangers game the night her mother went into labor with her in June 1997 and had to leave early. Her favorite Rangers memory?
“Probably [attending] the World Series when they were playing the St. Louis Cardinals,” said Kocian, who is attending UCLA. “Hopefully, in October, I’ll come back and see some [World Series] games.”
Kocian, 19, and her USA gymnastics teammates have been on a whirlwind of tour appearances since the Rio Olympics, including presenting Beyonce with a Video Music Award last week. She said meeting Beltre barely edged out Beyonce.
“That’s hard, but I have to go with Beltre,” she said. “I’m a very big Rangers fan, so Beltre giving me the bat was just the cherry on top.”