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As Todd Coffey's throwing partner, Seth McClung has a pretty good idea of - at least partially - what's made his fellow Milwaukee Brewers reliever so effective this season.

"That sinker's just nasty," McClung said. "I can see why guys hit it on the ground."

No Brewers reliever - or pitcher, for that matter - has enjoyed a better start to the season than Coffey, who's established himself as Milwaukee manager Ken Macha's top option out of the bullpen in the early going.

Coffey has yet to allow a run in seven appearances spanning 9 2 3 innings. Heck, he hasn't allowed a run since the Brewers claimed him off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds last September, a total scoreless streak of 16 games and 17 innings.

For Coffey, the formula isn't too complex.

"Attacking the zone, throwing strikes, going after people," said the 28-year-old Coffey, who has a 4.27 career ERA in 229 major league appearances. "Let them hit the ball and use the defense behind me. Just stick with that."

Coffey has done just that so far this season for Milwaukee, which continues its road trip with a three-game series in Philadelphia beginning tonight.

He hasn't nibbled, with 61.5 percent of his pitches going for strikes. And with so many of the Brewers' pitchers struggling with walks, he's issued only three.

"When you come in as a reliever, you've got to throw strikes," the 6-foot-4, 241-pound Coffey said. "You can't walk anybody. You can't do it. You can't come into the game, walk a guy, because what's (first baseman Prince Fielder) going to do? Tackle him to keep him from first? He's at first.

"You can't defend that walk. So that's the main thing as a reliever, you go in, attack the guys. If they beat you, they beat you."

That hasn't happened too often this season, with Coffey's sinker a major culprit.

He's induced 18 groundouts - compared to five flyouts - which has made Coffey particularly useful when coming in with runners already on base.

He's entered three games with the bases loaded - including in the seventh inning of Sunday's 4-2 win over the Mets - and hasn't allowed any inherited runners to score. On Sunday, he came in with one out before getting New York first baseman Carlos Delgado to ground back to him, the start of an inning-ending double play.

"A lot of things that we as a staff aren't doing right now is what he is doing," McClung said. "He's pitching to contact and he's got pitches that make guys hit it on the ground. He's getting the double plays when he needs the double play and he's throwing hard right now so he's getting the strikeout when he needs the strikeout, because he's keeping it down.

"He'd be a really good person for us to kind of look at and say, 'You know, let's just do a little bit of what Coffey's doing.' "

Coffey sprints toward the mound when summoned from the bullpen, something he says he's done since he was in the minor leagues. The reason is twofold - to loosen up his legs and to get his adrenaline pumping.

Likewise, he generally doesn't waste much time going after hitters.

"As a reliever, you're either hero or goat," he said. "You're either going to be cheered off the field or booed off the field. That's the way it is. So I'll go out there and attack guys and see what happens."

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 22, 2009

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