Jungmann finding groove in big leagues
PHILADELPHIA -- Rookie Brewers right-hander Taylor Jungmann his boosted his numbers across the board since a promotion from Triple-A Colorado Springs, and he engaged in a fascinating discussion Wednesday about why that might be.
For starters, he's no longer pitching in the thin air and wildly varying atmospheric conditions that define the Brewers' new top affiliate. But his relative recent success, Jungmann suggested, goes beyond geography.
"I like to compete in games that actually matter," said Jungmann, who quickly clarified. "Not that games down there don't matter -- but it's all the other things. You're trying to impress somebody. You're worried about what other people are thinking. 'Do they think I'm good enough to be in the big leagues? Is this outing good enough to get me there?' Those kind of things just weigh on you a little bit.
"When you're here, you don't think about any of that. You just go out and try to win a game. For me, competing is what I like to do. When you get up here, that's what it's all about."
He offered a specific example.
"Say it's a 2-2 count in Triple-A," Jungmann said. "They're always worried about walking people. So, do I really want to throw a breaking ball here? You start questioning if you should throw a breaking ball, because if you go 3-2 and walk the guy, they're going to be mad you walked the guy. Here, it doesn't matter if it's a competitive walk. They know that. It's not the same. You can work around guys up here. They know they're competitive walks.
"For me, it's easier with my mentality because all I'm worried about is competing. But don't think I'm saying it's easier here -- because it's not."
Jungmann owns a 2.79 ERA after five Major League starts, and already has been the Brewers' fifth-most valuable pitcher this season by Fangraphs' WAR (0.4). At Colorado Springs, Jungmann had a 6.37 ERA in nine starts plus two relief appearances.
"I think it's a question that player development faces, that balance between just competing to win and trying to improve yourself for long-term development," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "There's no question [players] face that, and it's all done with their best interest in mind. You're taking a long-term focus in the Minor Leagues. But I understand what he's saying."
The tough conditions at Colorado Springs help explain why, when the Brewers needed a "No. 6 starter" for the first time, they passed over Triple-A and promoted right-hander Tyler Wagner from Double-A Biloxi. At the time, Counsell justified the move simply by saying that Wagner was pitching the best.
Jungmann declined to address how strongly that decision stung. He is focused instead on pitching well enough to keep his spot. Right-hander Wily Peralta, whose oblique injury created an opening in the first place, is just beginning to throw off a mound again.
"At this point, I'm not worried about any of that," Jungmann said. "I'm just going out there trying to compete and give the chance to win. Enjoying the time I have up here and trying to take advantage of it."