Pop 'more comfortable' with more reps

May 16th, 2021

LOS ANGELES -- Rookie reliever has been on a upward trend since he gave up three runs in a one-inning outing against the Braves on April 15.

Since then, Pop has yet to allow a run across his last eight outings and has allowed just four hits in 11 1/3 innings of work out of the bullpen.

Working on his delivery has been a part of the turnaround, as has playing with more confidence, he said.

“I definitely think that each time you go out, you definitely get a little bit more comfortable out there,” Pop said. “You kind of adjust to the fans, you adjust to the stadium, you adjust to the hitters. … And once you start doing it more, it becomes a little bit easier than the first time that you're out there and your head is spinning a little bit. And it becomes more, it's just a baseball game.”

The road to The Show for Pop came with setbacks. Originally a seventh-round Draft pick of the Dodgers in 2017, Pop was sent to the Orioles as part of the Manny Machado trade. After undergoing Tommy John surgery in May '19, Pop was taken by the D-backs in the '20 Rule 5 Draft and promptly got traded to the Marlins, ultimately making Miami's ‘21 Opening Day roster.

Marlins manager Don Mattingly said Pop has been visibly more comfortable as he's seen more time on the mound, and he has responded well to the situations he's been put in. Mattingly added that the Marlins have been careful about utilizing the rookie following an injury setback in the early stages of the 2021 season.

“He's been out there on the mound enough where he's been in competition where you can see him more relaxed,” Mattingly said. “The transition that we've seen is really [him] going from a guy that looked really mechanical to more of getting into the game mode.”

López looking for a bounce back
was a bit less sharp his most recent time through the rotation than he had been for most of the season. The 25-year-old gave up six runs through 4 1/3 innings of work against the D-backs. Prior to that, López had given up more than three runs just once in seven starts.

During López’s upcoming outing on Sunday at Dodger Stadium, Mattingly said the starter could benefit from mixing up his arsenal and by laying off his changeup -- a pitch that the Venezuelan-born pitcher has used 38 percent of the time this season, according to Statcast.

“We got to get his blend back to where it's more unpredictable,” Mattingly said. “It was a second time in a row facing that same team and that time, he chose to use the changeup more. He got a little bit more away from his four-seam.”

In the start against Arizona, López used his changeup for 45 percent of his pitches. D-backs hitters managed to get three hits, including a home run, against the 39 changeups López threw.

Looking at it from a hitting coach’s perspective, Mattingly said the heavy changeup use helps hitters key in on what might be coming.

“When you start throwing [nearly] 50 percent changeups, then guys start eliminating other pitches,” Mattingly said. “We just got to keep his mix where it's blended properly and a little more unpredictable.”

Roster moves

• Left-handed pitcher was added to the active roster on Saturday.

• Right-handed pitcher was optioned to Triple-A Jacksonville.

• Right-hander pitcher Luís Madero cleared waivers and accepted his assignment to Triple-A Jacksonville.