Lacking command, Sampson working on mechanics
Reds righty acknowledges difficulties with delivery after tough start vs. Brewers
CINCINNATI -- After Friday's rainout at Great American Ball Park, the Reds made a slight tweak to their rotation, keeping left-hander John Lamb on schedule for Saturday afternoon and pushing back right-hander Keyvius Sampson to start the second half of the day-night doubleheader.
The Reds figured Sampson, who has worked out of the bullpen, would be better equipped to bounce back from a potential weather delay. But Mother Nature had other plans, and Saturday evening's one-hour, 33-minute wait instead brought a premature end to another disappointing start for Sampson in a 7-3 loss to the Brewers.
Sampson allowed three runs on five hits and three walks with three strikeouts over three innings on Saturday night. He threw 64 pitches, so he could have worked deeper into the game. But a thunderstorm wedged the delay into the middle of the third inning, too long a break for Sampson to continue pitching -- even if he wanted to.
Sampson started the night with two zeros, but he still had to work out of trouble early on. He gave up two singles and a pair of walks in a scoreless first inning, then bounced back with a perfect second in which he struck out two.
The third inning got out of hand for Sampson, 24, as he allowed three runs on three singles, a walk and a wild pitch.
Over his last four starts, Sampson has seen his ERA climb from 3.18 to 6.68. During that stretch, he has given up 30 hits and nine walks over 14 innings. He hasn't won a game since Aug. 13, when he held the Dodgers to two runs over five innings.
"It's just been a struggle for him to get ahead and stay ahead in counts. That really makes a big difference," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "When he's really pitching well, he's been clustering well-located pitches in a much smaller area than he is now. Now, he's spraying around the plate. That doesn't lead you down the road to success.
"He's working hard at it. He just hasn't really locked himself back in yet."
Sampson agreed with Price's assessment. He was even able to locate the source of his difficulties: his head. When Sampson's head is heading straight toward the plate during his delivery, everything else falls into place. When it's not, he's not the same pitcher.
On Saturday night, Sampson felt right at times -- particularly with his offspeed pitches -- but out of sync at others.
He's working between starts to rectify the issue, hoping that a consistent delivery will lead to consistently improved results.
"Trying to just hang in there," Sampson said. "Continue to work, man. Little rough patch right now, so that's all I can do: continue to work and build on the positives that are there."