Craig Breslow's offseason of pitching experimentation led to a contract with the Twins
When you think of players trying to resurrect their careers, you probably picture a "Rocky"-like training montage filled with sweat, blood and chickens being chased in the rain. Craig Breslow's offseason had more in common with Dr. Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll, as he spent plenty of late nights doing unholy experiments in his dungeon laboratory.
...OK, maybe that was a little hyperbolic. But all of Breslow's offseason work has resulted in a Minor League deal with the Twins and an invite to Spring Training.
The Yale-educated reliever was one of the most reliable arms from 2005-13, posting a 2.82 ERA over that time.
Following an arm injury in March of 2013, Breslow's ERA rose to 4.93 as he traveled from the Red Sox to the Marlins to the Rangers, where he would never pitch in the Majors. Now at 36 years old, most would think that's it for him.
But for Breslow, who majored in molecular biophysics and biochemistry, that wasn't a good enough answer. After all, just look at players like Bartolo Colon, who continues to succeed into his 40's simply by throwing a variety of mid-80s fastballs, or Rich Hill, who turned his career around at the age of 35 and returned to the Majors as a pitcher that relied on his looping curve.
Thanks to Statcast™ and the research that has gone into things like spin rate, Breslow saw an opportunity to change his approach. After setting up his own tracking systems, Breslow looked at the spin rates he was getting and began tinkering with arm angles and release points. As he told Sports Illustrated:
That's right, we're in a new era of sports. Here's a peek at what the Twins saw when Breslow and his new arm-slot held a showcase before scouts:
While we'll have to wait until Spring Training to see if these changes have transformed Breslow into the newest lights out pitcher, we can at least begin brainstorming names for the new-look breaking ball from the mad scientist. Personally, I'm partial to Breslow's Monster.