McCullers working on getting feel for 4-seamer

Righty says he otherwise felt good in 2nd outing back from surgery

March 7th, 2020

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Most pitchers are working on changeups, curveballs or sliders during Spring Training. For Astros right-hander , it’s a matter of getting his four-seam fastball to a spot where he has more confidence in it when the season starts.

McCullers, making his second start of the spring -- and second following Tommy John surgery -- threw 29 pitches (17 strikes) in two innings of work Friday night in a 3-2 win over the Mets at Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. He allowed leadoff triples to Brandon Nimmo in the first and Amed Rosario in the second, with both scoring on groundouts.

“The one thing I was working on today wasn’t great, but all the other stuff I typically throw was excellent today,” McCullers said. “I’ve just got to keep on.”

McCullers is a curveball-heavy pitcher who also throws a lot of sinkers and some changeups, but the four-seam fastball is his fourth pitch. He used to be a power four-seam fastball pitcher, and he is still trying to be comfortable with it again.

“I had gotten away from it, and I’m trying to find it again,” McCullers said. “I’ve just got to do a good job of mixing the two fastballs with my other pitches.”

McCullers was pleased with his other three pitches and his velocity, which registered 95 mph on a second-inning sinker. His curveball and changeup were very good, and he was able to throw some changeups in the zone. He got swings and misses on some changeups in a couple of early counts.

“I’m really happy with the way I felt today, and my stuff was much more crisp today than it was my first outing, which is normal,” he said. “That’s not because of anything other than the normal Spring Training stuff.”