July 7th, 2012

Smyly throws Royals a curveball (or a slider, or a slurve)

If you read the game story from last night on the site, you’ve already read plenty about the adjustments Drew Smyly made to get out of his midseason doldrums, his breaking ball foremost among them. He says he tweaked it, but did he maybe come up with a different pitch?

His breaking pitch has sometimes been described as a slider, but the movement on it last night looked more like a curveball. Moreover, Smyly called it a curveball.

“Tonight it was a curve,” Smyly said after the game. “I think I got away from what I was throwing, and it was kind of slurvy. But over the past couple weeks, me and [pitching coach Jeff Jones] have been working on staying closed [in my delivery]. When I fly open, that’s when things start to get kind of flat. When I stay closed, it makes is more [overhand].”

The break was sharper, but just as important, the delivery makes it look like he’s about to throw a fastball.

“I threw a lot of them in the dirt and they were swinging at them over and over,” Smyly said. “That tells me they were thinking it was something else.”

According to data on MLB.com Gameday and brooksbaseball.net, Smyly threw 43 breaking balls, nearly matching his fastball total (48). He got 28 strikes from it, and eight swings and misses, more than he got on his other four pitches combined.

It was a huge difference against the Royals, who struck out just four times in six innings against Smyly April 17 at Kauffman Stadium. He threw 63 fastballs and 18 sliders in that outing, and got just two swings and misses out of the latter.

Smyly believes he can throw it both styles and essentially give himself an extra pitch midway through his rookie season.

“I’m still working on mixing in both of them, both the slurve and the curveball,” he said. “It’s the same pitch, but you can just kind of throw it softer and harder. Today was the best it’s been in a while, and I was really throwing hard. I was able to control it. I was throwing for strikes, too. That really helped me out.”

Saturday: Tigers vs. Royals

Just arrived in Kansas City for All-Star festivities (the Futures Game, for one, is Sunday night), but here’s the lineup for today’s game against the Royals. Berry is back in the lineup against another lefty, though Bruce Chen is a far different style pitcher than Jonathan Sanchez. Brennan Boesch sits for a second straight game.

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Quintin Berry, LF
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B
  4. Prince Fielder, 1B
  5. Delmon Young, DH
  6. Ryan Raburn, RF
  7. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  8. Ramon Santiago, 2B
  9. Gerald Laird, C

P: Doug Fister

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