Efficient Ziegler making quick work of hitters

In two outings since joining Red Sox, reliever has recorded six outs on 15 pitches

Efficient Ziegler making quick work of hitters

NEW YORK -- After the Red Sox's 5-3 win over the Yankees on Friday night, catcher Ryan Hanigan compared reliever Brad Ziegler's sidearm hurl to a sport that involves a slightly heavier type of ball -- bowling.

"I've faced him and never enjoyed it," Hanigan said. "Being on the other end, it's just so funky. It's like a big, tumbling bowling ball coming in there."

Ziegler has faced six batters over two outings for the Red Sox, and he's sat down all six on just 15 pitches. On Friday, the right-hander came into the rivalry in the seventh inning with a two-run advantage.

He faced Alex Rodriguez, Didi Gregorius and Starlin Castro. After a combination of sinkers, curveballs and a changeup, he sat down all three using seven pitches.

Ziegler, who was used to closing for the D-backs before being acquired by Boston, said he's most efficient when he pitches for ground balls instead of looking for strikeouts.

"[I'm] trying to get contact in the first two or three pitches. Just trusting the defense behind me. [Dustin Pedroia] made a good play tonight on the ball that Didi hit to him," Ziegler said. "That's what I've seen those guys do from afar, and I know what they're capable of. I just gotta be aggressive on the mound and trust them behind me."

Pitchers are often pumped up during big, crucial outings. For Ziegler, it's exactly the opposite. His hardest sling of the night was an 83-mph sinker, and the righty said he's more successful when he stays calm and in control.

"If I start throwing too hard, my ball flattens out," Ziegler said. "A little too hard for me is 86 [mph], so it's not like I'm overpowering hitters with it. I try to just stay relaxed, stay calm, stay smooth and hopefully the ball still moves."

Farrell put Robbie Ross Jr. in for the eighth against a switch-hitter and two lefties. Ziegler said he could've gone out for a multi-inning outing but would've paid the price the next day.

Since Farrell announced right-hander Koji Uehara will be the closer with Craig Kimbrel on the disabled list, Ziegler will typically work earlier in the game. If that is the case, the reliever will have to work out a few recovery kinks to provide multiple innings for Boston.

"It doesn't affect me a whole lot. In that instance, I could do it," Ziegler said. "But then tomorrow I would feel a little more sore. I haven't done it a lot while I was closing. I know that's probably gonna come up more here with the role that I'm in, so I'll do what I can to prepare myself for it."

Deesha Thosar is a reporter for MLB.com based in Boston. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.