Sims Remains Ultra-Competitive

LYNCHBURG, VA - As August turned into September, every team tries to fight the battle of keeping their bullpen fresh. Lynchburg Hillcats relief pitcher Blaine Sims is winning that battle so far, but the season isn't over yet.

Sims started on the right note in Spring Training, but after that his season has been a tale of ups and downs.

"It went really well," Sims said. "I worked out with Double-A. I pitched lights out. They sent me back to high-A, but that's part of it. It went really well, and I was in great shape. I was throwing hard."

The left-hander recalls days at the start of the season where he thought his preseason performance should have earned him a spot in Mississippi, at the Double-A level.

Instead, he began the season at the high-A level as a Hillcat, 13 hours further from his hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas than he expected to be. As he now reluctantly admits, he had let his situation affect his play on the mound.

"I had a 7.50 ERA at the end of May," Sims said. "I was bitter, but it took me a while to get over it. Once I got over it, I started pitching to my capability. I went from a 7.50 ERA at the end of May, and I'm down to a [4.42] ERA now. This game is so much mental."

Lynchburg Pitching Coach Derek Botelho has been working with Sims all year long and is very familiar with what he needs to do to have success out of the bullpen.

"Blaine is a control-type pitcher," Botelho said. "He doesn't have overpowering stuff, but he has fairly decent command of a two-seam fastball, a four-seam fastball, a curveball and a changeup. The changeup is his best pitch. He's got a really good changeup."

Botelho normally uses Sims in a long or middle relief role, coming in to get lefties out on occasion. According to Botelho, his changeup allows Sims to go after right-handed hitters as well as left-handed ones.

"He's had some outings out there where he's done a pretty good job against left-handers," Botelho said. "He's got it now with right-handed hitters, with his changeup. He's had some outings where he's gone out there and been really consistent, did a good job with his changeup to right-handed hitters."

Sims has his weapon against right-handed hitters in his changeup, and he has made it a goal to keep getting left-handed hitters out as well. According to Botelho, adjusting Sims' curveball to have a sharper break, making it more of a slurve, has helped against the left-handed hitters.

"I've gotten lefties out well this season," Sims said. "They're hitting .150 off of me. If you can get lefties out, you're going to have a job in this business for a long time."

There have been bright spots this season for Blaine Sims, but both he and his coach have acknowledged his need for consistency. Sims knows what he needs to do: throw strikes, pitch to contact and be aggressive.

"He needs to repeat and just get more focused," Botelho said. "He needs to keep competing and having good outings. He will have one good outing, one mediocre one, a fairly decent one and then a couple bad ones. He's got to go out there every time and put a string together, put some consistency together."

Sims recently showed some signs of late-season fatigue, as many pitchers do this time of year. He entered a tie game August 22 and surrendered four runs, including two home runs, without getting an out. He would take the loss in the Hillcats 7-2 win, but Botelho wasn't too worried.

"I'll be the first to tell you that our bullpen is getting tired right now," Botelho said. "It's that time of the year where you have to just keep grinding it out. It was one of those nights where his control was off."

Playing in the eight-team Carolina League also contributes to tougher times at the end of the season for pitchers.

"With the amount of times that we play everybody, they have a book on each guy out there. They're going to sit on his changeup sometimes because they know that's his best pitch. Every pitcher has those nights. Now we're going to see how he bounces back out there."

Whatever was to blame for the off night, Botelho seems to still have confidence in his left-hander.

"The thing about him is that he competes on good nights and bad nights," Botelho said. "He might not have his best stuff. He might not have the ability and talent that a lot of the other guys have out there, but he makes up for it with his competitiveness."

Sims will need that competitiveness if he wants to continue on to Mississippi, and a chip on his shoulder just may be what he needs.


Atlanta Dugout Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nSims started on the right note in Spring Training, but after that his season has been a tale of ups and downs.
\r\n
\r\n\"It went really well,\" Sims said. \"I worked out with Double-A. I pitched lights out. They sent me back to high-A, but that's part of it. It went really well, and I was in great shape. I was throwing hard.\"
\r\n
\r\nThe left-hander recalls days at the start of the season where he thought his preseason performance should have earned him a spot in Mississippi, at the Double-A level.
\r\n
\r\nInstead, he began the season at the high-A level as a Hillcat, 13 hours further from his hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas than he expected to be. As he now reluctantly admits, he had let his situation affect his play on the mound.
\r\n
\r\n\"I had a 7.50 ERA at the end of May,\" Sims said. \"I was bitter, but it took me a while to get over it. Once I got over it, I started pitching to my capability. I went from a 7.50 ERA at the end of May, and I'm down to a [4.42] ERA now. This game is so much mental.\"
\r\n
\r\nLynchburg Pitching Coach Derek Botelho has been working with Sims all year long and is very familiar with what he needs to do to have success out of the bullpen.
\r\n
\r\n\"Blaine is a control-type pitcher,\" Botelho said. \"He doesn't have overpowering stuff, but he has fairly decent command of a two-seam fastball, a four-seam fastball, a curveball and a changeup. The changeup is his best pitch. He's got a really good changeup.\"
\r\n
\r\nBotelho normally uses Sims in a long or middle relief role, coming in to get lefties out on occasion. According to Botelho, his changeup allows Sims to go after right-handed hitters as well as left-handed ones.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's had some outings out there where he's done a pretty good job against left-handers,\" Botelho said. \"He's got it now with right-handed hitters, with his changeup. He's had some outings where he's gone out there and been really consistent, did a good job with his changeup to right-handed hitters.\"
\r\n
\r\nSims has his weapon against right-handed hitters in his changeup, and he has made it a goal to keep getting left-handed hitters out as well. According to Botelho, adjusting Sims' curveball to have a sharper break, making it more of a slurve, has helped against the left-handed hitters.
\r\n
\r\n\"I've gotten lefties out well this season,\" Sims said. \"They're hitting .150 off of me. If you can get lefties out, you're going to have a job in this business for a long time.\"
\r\n
\r\nThere have been bright spots this season for Blaine Sims, but both he and his coach have acknowledged his need for consistency. Sims knows what he needs to do: throw strikes, pitch to contact and be aggressive.
\r\n
\r\n\"He needs to repeat and just get more focused,\" Botelho said. \"He needs to keep competing and having good outings. He will have one good outing, one mediocre one, a fairly decent one and then a couple bad ones. He's got to go out there every time and put a string together, put some consistency together.\"
\r\n
\r\nSims recently showed some signs of late-season fatigue, as many pitchers do this time of year. He entered a tie game August 22 and surrendered four runs, including two home runs, without getting an out. He would take the loss in the Hillcats 7-2 win, but Botelho wasn't too worried.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'll be the first to tell you that our bullpen is getting tired right now,\" Botelho said. \"It's that time of the year where you have to just keep grinding it out. It was one of those nights where his control was off.\"
\r\n
\r\nPlaying in the eight-team Carolina League also contributes to tougher times at the end of the season for pitchers.
\r\n
\r\n\"With the amount of times that we play everybody, they have a book on each guy out there. They're going to sit on his changeup sometimes because they know that's his best pitch. Every pitcher has those nights. Now we're going to see how he bounces back out there.\"
\r\n
\r\nWhatever was to blame for the off night, Botelho seems to still have confidence in his left-hander.
\r\n
\r\n\"The thing about him is that he competes on good nights and bad nights,\" Botelho said. \"He might not have his best stuff. He might not have the ability and talent that a lot of the other guys have out there, but he makes up for it with his competitiveness.\"
\r\n
\r\nSims will need that competitiveness if he wants to continue on to Mississippi, and a chip on his shoulder just may be what he needs.
\r\n
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