"If you do that, that means they went to their bullpen early because they had a problem. You increase your chances of winning right there."
The results are indisputable. The Rangers, who open a three-game series with the Angels tonight, began Sunday with a rotation that boasts a 4.40 ERA and ranks third in the league in innings pitched, and a bullpen that has a 4.27 ERA.
Ace Kevin Millwood, on the disabled list four times in the last two years because of leg injuries, ranks third in the majors in innings pitched and is 8-5 with a 2.80 ERA. Most important: Texas is tied for first place in the American League West.
Ryan rarely visits the clubhouse -- he leaves the on-field work to the coaches -- but he's at the park by 9:30 a.m., attends almost every home game (but few road games) and his office door is open, as reliever C.J. Wilson learned in late April.
Growing up in Fountain Valley, the hard-throwing left-hander followed the workout program from "Nolan Ryan's Pitcher's Bible: The Ultimate Guide to Power, Precision and Long-Term Performance."
Said Wilson: "That's why I have beefy legs."
He also had a beefy 7.00 ERA in his first 10 games when he knocked on Ryan's door.
"He was a lot more approachable than you'd think someone of his stature would be," Wilson said. "He said even when he threw 100 mph, if he could locate his curve for strikes, that's when he'd have his best games.
"He said if I threw my off-speed pitches for strikes more often, instead of relying so much on my fastball, I'd be more successful."
Since then, Wilson has given up three runs in 25 innings of 25 games for a 1.08 ERA, lowering his season ERA to 2.65.
As Ryan shapes the Rangers in his image, the basics are simple. He wants pitchers to be tough, to fight through fatigue, to attack the strike zone and to pitch inside.
"There is an art to doing that," he said. "It's not about hitting guys or head-hunting, it's about knowing when to pitch in and developing the ability to do it."
Ryan tells of a conversation he had last year with Hall of Fame outfielder Tony Gwynn.
"I said, 'Tony, who's the toughest left-hander you had to face?' He said Randy Johnson. I said, 'What about Steve Carlton?' He said, 'Nope, I never had a problem with Carlton.' I asked why.
"He said, 'Randy would stand me up at least once every game we faced him, and I was aware of that, so I couldn't look out over the plate. Carlton never did that. He pitched me away, away, away. That's my strength, and I never had to worry about the inside.'
"That sums it up right there. Every pitcher should hear that and say, 'I need to pitch inside.' "