Brownlie is carrying a bloated 5.77 ERA with a 1-2 record in six starts. A rough outing on April 28 against Memphis is a big reason for his uncharacteristically high numbers. In Iowa's loss to the Redbirds, Brownlie gave up a career-high eight runs on nine hits (three of which were home runs).
"I've had three decent outings and two rough ones," Brownlie said. "I need to be more consistent with my delivery. The consistency is not where I need it to be in the games that I have pitched poorly in."
Brownlie cites poor mechanics for his early season struggles. The former Rutgers right-hander suffered a shoulder injury and tendonitis in college, which caused an ineffective delivery.
"When I suffered the injury, I had a lot of bad habits from overuse," Brownlie said. "I was cutting off my pitches. Now I'm throwing down through pitches."
Brownlie is conscious of his occasional mechanical deficiencies, but the habit is not easy to break.
"Sometimes it's hard for me to tell," Brownlie said. "I tell my pitching coach (Rick Kranitz) and catcher, ‘If you see me do something, come to me and tell me.' I need to avoid the bad innings."
One pitch Brownlie has worked hard on since joining the Cubs' farm system is his changeup. His other main pitches are a four-seam fastball, a two-seam fastball, and a curveball that primarily serves as his out-pitch.
The 24-year-old has worked his way through the Cubs' organization at an efficient pace, going 9-9 in 26 starts at Double-A West Tenn last year and finishing with a 5-4 record in 13 starts at Class-A Daytona in 2003, his debut season in the farm system.
"I can't complain about the way I've progressed," Brownlie said. "I have made the adjustments that I needed to make, especially with the changeup. I am really happy with how I have been able to keep (the changeup) down."
The Iowa pitching staff had an ERA of 5.81 in its first 31 games. RHPs Jon Leicester and Todd Wellemeyer have already served (or are currently serving) two different stints with the major league club, and the always familiar Sergio Mitre earned a call-up on Tuesday. Brownlie would of course like to be the next prospect sent to Chicago, but he realizes there's something standing in his way at the moment.
"It all comes down to consistency," Brownlie said. "I want to get to the point where if the Cubs call and need a guy that can make a start and eat up some innings, they'll have me to rely on. I am not going to get to that point until I get my consistency up, which is what I've been striving for.
"I really have not set an ETA with anything (in terms of making a big league debut). There are a lot of great pitchers in Chicago. I have high demands on myself. We'll let the cards fall where they may."
Scott Sabin is the contributing editor of Inside The Ivy. Write to Scott at email@example.com.