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Lindblom looks to get 'inside' track on hitters

@AdamMcCalvy
March 1, 2020

PHOENIX -- The men and women around Josh Lindblom learn a little something about the Brewers right-hander every time he takes the mound in his return to Major League Baseball following a string of successful years in South Korea. On Sunday, in a 5-4 win over the Reds at American

PHOENIX -- The men and women around Josh Lindblom learn a little something about the Brewers right-hander every time he takes the mound in his return to Major League Baseball following a string of successful years in South Korea.

On Sunday, in a 5-4 win over the Reds at American Family Fields of Phoenix, it was that Lindblom is focused this spring on pitching to the inside part of the plate. And he conjured a particularly poetic description of what he meant.

“Especially to lefties, it’s a big part of my game. Righties as well,” Lindblom said after allowing one Reds run on three hits in three innings of his third Cactus League stint. “That’s what we’re trying to figure out, game-planning-wise right now, how we’re going to get hitters out, how we’re going to attack hitters. That’s something that gets ironed out during the spring and into the season. ...

“No matter what your stuff is, you have to throw both sides of the plate. You’ve got to be able to open different zones. Command is not only about throwing the ball down and to the corners, it’s about being able to command the ball in the zone, out of the zone. Throw pressure pitches in on guys at their bodies, at their hands, to open up different zones.

“I was telling [pitching coach Chris Hook] in the dugout after my outing that I kind of view pitching in the game as a symphony. Each note plays off of one another. Throughout the course of a game, you’re coming back to those same notes, I guess. I’m thinking two, three pitches in advance about trying to open up zones. That’s just something I’ve done over the last few years.”

Lindblom is a lock for the Brewers’ pitching rotation after getting a three-year contract to return to the U.S. from the Korea Baseball Organization, where he won that league’s version of the Cy Young Award each of the past two seasons and was league MVP in 2019.

“The one thing that we’re going to preach with him is that he’s got all these options because he has several pitches, but staying on the attack with him is always going to be imperative,” manager Craig Counsell said. “He really has options in every count, which is sometimes challenging, almost.”

Against the Reds, Lindblom was one of the pitchers who followed another candidate for the starting rotation, left-hander Eric Lauer, who recorded five of his seven outs via strikeout in a sharp performance. So far, so good for the Brewers' potential starters; the top six options -- Brandon Woodruff, Adrian Houser, Brett Anderson, Lindblom, Lauer and Freddy Peralta -- have combined to surrender six earned runs in 25 1/3 innings so far, with 27 strikeouts.

“The pace of the games has been good,” Counsell said. “Our pitchers are throwing strikes. I think our pitchers are attacking the strike zone and that’s why games have felt clean, because we’re not walking batters.”

Last call
• The Brewers’ plan is that if Peralta doesn’t win a rotation spot, he would begin the season in the bullpen. But what about Lauer? Tentatively, Counsell said, Lauer would begin the season as a starter at Triple-A San Antonio if there isn’t room in the big league rotation. But that’s not a demotion, Counsell argued.

“I don’t see it as ‘rotation or bust,’” Counsell said. “I see it as, ‘rotation or Triple-A, but you could be starting a game for us on April 10.’”

• While most of the team is off on Monday, Houser, Brent Suter and J.P. Feyereisen will stay on schedule by pitching against White Sox hitters in a 9:30 a.m. CT “B” game in the main stadium at American Family Fields of Phoenix. The event will be open to the public.

Up next
Following Monday’s off-day, the Brewers will return refreshed to play the Padres at Peoria Sports Complex on Tuesday at 2:10 p.m. CT. Lefty Brett Anderson will be on the mound for the third time this spring, meaning he's scheduled to extend to three innings opposite San Diego right-hander Garrett Richards. The game will air on FOX Sports Wisconsin, MLB.TV and on 94.5 FM in Milwaukee.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram and like him on Facebook.