Slider command key for Scheppers

Slider command key for Scheppers

Slider command key for Scheppers

SEATTLE -- Reliever Tanner Scheppers retired the side in order in the ninth inning of Monday's 8-3 victory over the Mariners. A terrific diving catch by Elvis Andrus did help, but it was still a positive outing for Scheppers after allowing three runs on six hits over his two previous outings. In both outings he wasn't able to finish his inning.

"It was good to get back out there," Scheppers said. "I think over the course of the season everybody is going to have ups and downs. You just want to make the downs short, minimize them."

Manager Ron Washington said Scheppers was effective on Monday because he had a good slider working.

"If he can get that across the plate, it will certainly make his fastball more effective," Washington said.

Scheppers throws his slider for a strike 56 percent of the time. That's the second-lowest percentage for a pitch thrown by Rangers pitchers (mininum 100 pitches) this season. Joe Nathan throws his slider for a strike 67.1 percent of the time. Neal Cotts is at 72 percent and Joakim Soria is 68.2 percent with his slider.

But opponents also swing and miss at Scheppers slider 42.6 percent of the time. That's the highest percent for a slider among Rangers relievers. Nathan gets a swing and miss on 32.2 percent of his sliders.

The numbers simply reinforce what Washington said. If Scheppers can throw his slider for a strike, it can be a big pitch for him and keep opponents off his fastball.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.