D-backs reliever Brad Ziegler isn’t your typical closer.
On MLB Network’s MLB Now, host Brian Kenny explained the unusual way that the Arizona reliever gets his outs. In addition to throwing from a sidearm angle, Ziegler retires hitters via the groundball, not the strikeout.
From 2014 to 2016, Ziegler has posted the second-highest groundball percentage – 67.4 percent – behind only the Orioles’ Zach Britton.
His ability to get the groundball allows Ziegler to work out of jams. This year, Ziegler has rolled up seven double plays in the ninth inning or later – the most in baseball.
“I was watching him Friday night, I’m like, ‘look at this guy in trouble,’ and then he’s not in trouble,” Kenny said. “I’m just very impressed by this.”
His groundball tendencies also make walks less damaging. In 2016, Ziegler has struck out 16 hitters and walked 11. As Kenny noted, Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel has 37 strikeouts and just eight free passes.
“There’s something to be said for a guy who knows how to pitch, for a guy who stays within yourself,” said MLB Network analyst Dave Valley. “We always talk about hitters staying within yourself, for a guy who doesn’t try to do too much. This is exactly what Ziegler’s doing out there. He’s not afraid of walking somebody because he’s trying to make that perfect pitch. He knows he can come back and get that ground ball.”
Ziegler now has converted 41 consecutive save opportunities, dating back to May 29 of last year. After finishing 2015 with a 1.85 ERA, he’s at a 2.93 clip in 2016.
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