Tweak in Eickhoff's delivery ups velocity

Bullpen session during week adds to already impressive stuff

May 17th, 2016

PHILADELPHIA -- After the Braves lit up Jerad Eickhoff for four runs in 4 1/3 innings last Wednesday, he headed into his next bullpen session with plenty to cover.

Pitching coach Bob McClure made a tweak in Eickhoff's delivery during that session. The 26-year-old right-hander took the mound in Monday's 5-3 Phillies loss with added velocity on his fastball and a full repertoire of pitches.

Although it came in a losing effort, Eickhoff bounced back with six innings of three-run ball, striking out four Marlins.

"He looked much better," manager Pete Mackanin said. "I liked what I saw. The velocity was back. He threw some good sliders, used all his pitches. It was good to see."

Eickhoff began his big league career by dazzling players and fans alike with his swooping curveball. In his first three starts of 2016, he posted a 1.89 ERA over 19 innings. But in his last three leading up to Monday's start, that number jumped to 6.75.

It culminated in Atlanta last week, where Eickhoff relied on strictly his fastball and curveball. He didn't throw his changeup until the fifth inning and threw less than 10 pitches that weren't fastballs or curveballs all night.

On the season, Eickhoff had only thrown sliders for seven percent of his pitches. In Monday's start, they accounted for 20.6 percent. He threw more sliders than curves.

"Having that adjustment going from Atlanta, that slider is a big pitch for me," Eickhoff said. "If I can throw that in between my curveball and my fastball, that speed difference is going to be huge."

Eickhoff only retired one of his four punchouts with the slider, but its effectiveness was apparent. The one batter he did ring up with it? Giancarlo Stanton. Not bad.

For the other three, Eickhoff reverted back to the tried and true fastball-curve combo. But his heater had an added kick to it. Eickhoff was sitting in the low-to-mid 90s, topping out at 95. Christian Yelich whiffed on a 93-mph fastball to end the first.

"There were a lot more pitches I executed," Eickhoff said. "I think it's a big step in the right direction."