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Sims' key to success in '20? Dial it back

@m_sheldon
August 21, 2020

When he was a starting pitcher for the Braves, and even during his first stint with the Reds in 2018, reliever Lucas Sims was still trying to figure out what kind of pitcher he was and trying almost too hard to pitch at maximum intensity. Sims felt like he turned

When he was a starting pitcher for the Braves, and even during his first stint with the Reds in 2018, reliever Lucas Sims was still trying to figure out what kind of pitcher he was and trying almost too hard to pitch at maximum intensity.

Sims felt like he turned the corner in 2019, and everything has come together for him so far in ’20. Over 10 appearances entering Friday, he has a 0.82 ERA. During Thursday’s 5-4 loss to the Cardinals, he pitched 1 2/3 perfect innings while striking out the side in the seventh inning.

“It's always just because I'm always red-line, so I'm more like dialing it back a little bit. I call it 'numbing the situation,’” Sims said on Friday. “[It's] so that the highs don't get too high and the lows don't get too low. The thing for me is just being present, right? So, pitch to pitch, focusing on each [one], putting the sign down, going through my process and executing to the best of my ability.”

Sims acknowledged that he’s a much different pitcher -- both mentally and physically -- than he was in Atlanta.

“When I was with Atlanta, I feel like I was trying to mentally will my way in games without my best stuff,” he said. “I was doing a cutter and a sinker, and my breaking ball was not very good. I was just trying to find ways to go out there and compete. Now, it's more so just going back to, honestly, what I did in high school: throwing fastballs and breaking balls and the occasional changeup. That's always been my strength. Trying to continue to improve one percent every day. I stay in the present [and] execute pitches.”

There has also been more confidence exhibited by Sims, boosted in part by a conversation last season with pitching coach Derek Johnson.

“I pitched very timidly when I was with Atlanta, I always felt like I was kind of walking on eggshells,” Sims said. “When I got called up at the beginning of the second half … D.J. called me in and was like, 'Hey, here's the situation. We want you up here. We want you to do what you do. We think that you can really help our ballclub with the strength that you possess.' That little tidbit was like, ‘All right, I belong here, I believe I belong here and I can go out there and I can confidently believe in myself that I can go out there and get big league hitters out.’ For him to say that, it put my mind -- not at ease, but it did give me a little nudge.”

Miley ready for Saturday
Left-hander Wade Miley’s first two games as a Red have not been the stuff of legend. Miley is 0-2 with a 16.20 ERA, with each outing lasting 1 2/3 innings. In between the games, he was on the 10-day injured list with a left groin injury.

Miley, who was on a pitch-count limit and threw 44 pitches in the Reds' 5-4 loss to the Royals on Aug. 12, isn’t putting too much emphasis for his third start. He is scheduled on Saturday to face the Cardinals.

“I’m not trying to put any added pressure on myself at all,” Miley said. “Like I said last week, I was disappointed with the first inning and how it went, but at the same time, it was good to get back out there. I’m going to go out and just make pitches and get as deep as I can into the game until they take me out, and hopefully, results-wise, it’s better and continues to improve.”

Between his injury and the forced time off in quarantine last week after a teammate’s positive COVID-19 test, Miley has had a hard time finding a groove.

“Hopefully I’m heading in the right direction with this whole delivery thing and try to get my pitch count where I want it,” Miley said. “Just like the rhythm part of [the delivery], not necessarily a mechanical issue. … A couple of weeks ago, it felt like I was in week two of Spring Training. I just didn’t quite feel like where I wanted it to be, and then the groin injury. I felt really good in Summer Camp, and then the little groin thing came and messed me up a little bit. But I think I’ve kind of gotten over that, so I’m feeling more normal.”

Games vs. Pirates rescheduled
The Reds announced that their pair of last weekend’s postponed games vs. the Pirates will be made up via two doubleheaders. One will happen on Sept. 4 at PNC Park, with Cincinnati as the home team for Game 2. The other twin-bill is set for Sept. 14 at Great American Ball Park.

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook.