ARLINGTON, Texas — In becoming just the second pitcher from Appalachian State to start a game in the Major Leagues, Texas Rangers rookie Jeffrey Springs struck out Mike Trout and two other Angels batters in two scoreless innings Monday.
Springs lowered his ERA to 2.29 with a perfect first inning that included two strikeouts, including a swinging one from Trout on a 2-2 changeup, and a scoreless second inning in which he pitched around a one-out single and double. With two runners in scoring position, Springs induced an infield pop-up and then got Jose Briceno to swing through an 0-2 slider.
Springs, a left-handed reliever, took the mound as an “opener” as part of a new strategy that is being called a “bullpen game.”
According to The Ringer, a traditional starter faces a nine-man lineup an average of two and a half times, so instead of having the starter face the top hitters three times before exiting with the bottom of the order due up, a reliever can “open” a game by facing the top hitters before clearing the way for an average-length outing by the traditional starter. That would increase the chances of the normal starter facing the bottom-of-the-order hitters three times.
The only other App State Baseball alum to start a game on the mound was Don Cardwell, who had 301 career starts, with the last one occurring in 1970. Springs was primarily a starter on the mound for App State from 2012 until 2015, when he was drafted by the Rangers in the 30th round with the 888th overall pick.