Tweak in delivery paying dividends for Nelson

Right-hander has 1.38 ERA through first two regular-season starts

April 14th, 2017

CINCINNATI -- Jimmy Nelson made an adjustment in his delivery last season that did not pay immediate dividends. There was no turning back, however, and now the results of that change are becoming painfully evident to opposing batters.

The 27-year-old right-hander, working from a modified windup that more closely resembles a delivery from the stretch, allowed just one run over seven innings Thursday night during a 5-1 Brewers victory over the Reds at Great American Ball Park.

"It all starts from the ground up," Nelson said. "Pitching this way gives me a strong base that allows my arm to work like it's supposed to. There's no one right way, and this might not work for somebody else. But I'm making quality pitches, and quality pitches is what it's all about."

Nelson has been impressive in his first two starts. He limited the defending World Series champion Cubs to one run on four hits over six innings while striking out eight in his first start on Friday, but he had to settle for a no-decision in Milwaukee's 2-1, 11-inning victory. Through two starts, Nelson is 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA.

"Tonight was very similar to his first outing," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said.

Nelson actually utilized his new delivery during the second half of the season, but still led the National League in issuing 86 walks.

"He made a big adjustment last year and didn't get the results he wanted immediately," Counsell said. "But, to his credit, he really stuck with this, and he's seeing the results now."

Nelson gave up a run in the first inning Thursday, but after that, he settled in. He allowed only two Reds into scoring position through the remainder of his work shift, firing 73 strikes among 101 pitches. Nelson did not issue a walk and struck out five, including Reds cleanup hitter three times.

"You can't focus on the results, just the quality of pitches, and the quality of pitches is better," Nelson said. "We focused on getting the right base, getting even with the rubber. My windup just has a little step-back now. It eliminated some unneccesary movement."

The Reds scored their only run off Nelson when led off the game with a single to left, stole second, moved to third on a flyout and scored on Joey Votto's sacrifice fly to left. The only real danger Nelson faced after that came in the third inning, when he induced an inning-ending fly ball to left by Votto with in scoring position.

"Nelson was really good," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "It was a lot of fastballs and a handful of sliders, and when you're feeling like you can command your fastball and command your stuff, you can utilize it in a lot of ways, and he did. Realistically we didn't hit a lot of balls on the screws."