Q&A with B-Mets Pitching Coach Mark Brewer

BINGHAMTON, NY - With the first half of the Eastern League season coming to an end this week, it was a good time to catch up with Binghamton Mets pitching coach Mark Brewer to talk about a number of his pitchers. What does Brewer think about Josh Stinson's growth? How can Eddie Kunz turn his season around? What are his thoughts on his new lefty Mark Cohoon. Look inside to get all of his thoughts.

InsidePitchMagazine.com: Josh Stinson spent the last couple of seasons converting to the bullpen. In May he was transitioned back into the rotation and has been fairly successful. How has he responded to being a starter again and do you see him sticking as a starter long term?

Mark Brewer: He's responded really well. He's having a chance to work on the side, whereas out of the bullpen he wouldn't get consistent work in the bullpen from the standpoint of one-on-one. Being young, I think the New York Mets will probably continue to keep him in the starting role so he can get that one-on-one, at least for the next couple of years. Hopefully it volts him into something where he can make a contribution earlier than anticipated, from a bullpen standpoint, at the big league level.

Inside Pitch: After a strong start to the season with St. Lucie, Chris Schwinden has shown flashes of brilliance, but has overall been up-and-down. We know he has great control, but what does he need to do to get more consistent results?

Brewer: Trust his stuff and be a bulldog on the mound. Not that he's not, it's just that he's here because he deserves to be here and he has to trust that he's capable, every time he goes out, to get the job done.

Inside Pitch: Recently you discussed how Eddie Kunz' performance for the rest of the season will illustrate whether his time in the starting rotation was worthwhile. What do you expect to see from him over the next couple of months?

Brewer: We've started seeing it here in the last couple of weeks. Initially when he came out of the starting rotation, he had some trouble coming into the game establishing and throwing the ball over the plate. Here in the last few days, we've seen the guy come out of the bullpen and get two saves in Altoona, which has definitely got him on the right road, and that's what we're trying to see; consistency out of the bullpen in short stints versus that long stint having maybe the chance to get off the road and back on it. We want him to come in and get on it and stay on it.

Inside Pitch: Scott Shaw has had a rough go of it as a starter this year, but has pitched better out of the bullpen. Do you think he needed to be more aggressive with his fastball? Is the bullpen a more conducive environment for that?

Brewer: Absolutely. We saw it early on out of the bullpen out of Scotty. He doesn't have to pace himself to go six, seven innings. He can come in and let it fly, knowing that he's got all night to rest and a chance to get back out there tomorrow. And I think he'll benefit from that, just because of that reason.

Inside Pitch: Mark Cohoon garnered a lot of attention with the way he had pitched in Savannah. He's a guy who won't overwhelm hitters with his fastball. What kind of challenges will he face now in Double-A?

Brewer: Pretty much the same thing as Schwinden, same kind of category as Schwinden is in. He's got to trust his stuff. He has got to use the thought process and the stuff that he used and the way he used it in Savannah and make adjustments off of his style of pitching, versus allowing anything to enter into his mind from a negative standpoint, thinking that he's in Double-A, thinking that he has to do more.

Inside Pitch: The most consistent starter here this season has been Michael Antonini. After a subpar 2009 Eastern League campaign, what kind of adjustments has he made this year?

Brewer: Well, I think he came into the season in a healthier situation from a standpoint of being fresher. The winter before last year, he played winter ball and he had over 200 innings under his belt, so he was a little worn out when he came to Spring Training last year. I think that makes a difference, and the fact that he's learned to use his legs to gain better direction and momentum; I think it's allowing him to do things to both sides of the plate versus just one side of the plate.

Inside Pitch: Since returning from the disabled list, Eric Niesen seems to have rebounded physically, but has struggled with his location at times. What's the primary reason for Niesen's high walk rate?

Brewer: I think that he just gets out of sync with his delivery and it kind of snowballs on him. Up to this point, he's lost focus a few times and that's when he's come out of the game early. He had a chance to do that (Friday) night, being in a jam with the bases loaded and nobody out, but it was a big step (Friday) night when he pitched out of that jam. A couple of weeks ago the kid may have folded up tent and said ‘that's it' from the standpoint of being able to focus and execute at the same time. (Friday) night he was more relaxed and he was able to focus. Because you can focus, you're able to execute; if you can't focus, you can't execute.

Inside Pitch: Roy Merritt has pitched a lot of innings out of the bullpen for you guys this year. What are you thoughts on how he has performed this season?

Brewer: He started the season off hot as a firecracker, and ran into a situation there for a while where he had a spot that he wasn't throwing the ball as well as he did at the beginning. It looks to me like he's starting to rebound from that. It looks like he's going to be OK from the standpoint of throwing the ball down in the zone, and initiating contact so he gets that ground ball that he's capable of getting.

Inside Pitch: Derrick Ellison is a veteran lefty who's given some quality innings this year. How valuable has he been out of the bullpen?

Brewer: He's been valuable all year, but in the last two weeks, he's springboarded into a situation where we want to use him in any situation; in situations where we just have to eat up innings, and also we're not afraid to bring him into a situation where the game is one the line.

Inside Pitch: Lastly, Jenrry Mejia has been sidelined with a posterior cuff strain. How close is he to returning? How will the injury affect the way he is handled when he does return?

Brewer: Oh sure, it will affect the way he's handled from the standpoint of what his workload will be. As far as when he'll be back, I can't give you that information because I don't know. I haven't had any contact other than the initial contact we had when he went down with it. We're just waiting for the rehab program to take its toll on him to get him back to where he needs to be, so he can come back and compete with us.

\r\n \r\n\r\nInsidePitchMagazine.com: Josh Stinson spent the last couple of seasons converting to the bullpen. In May he was transitioned back into the rotation and has been fairly successful. How has he responded to being a starter again and do you see him sticking as a starter long term?
\r\n
\r\nMark Brewer: He's responded really well. He's having a chance to work on the side, whereas out of the bullpen he wouldn't get consistent work in the bullpen from the standpoint of one-on-one. Being young, I think the New York Mets will probably continue to keep him in the starting role so he can get that one-on-one, at least for the next couple of years. Hopefully it volts him into something where he can make a contribution earlier than anticipated, from a bullpen standpoint, at the big league level.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: After a strong start to the season with St. Lucie, Chris Schwinden has shown flashes of brilliance, but has overall been up-and-down. We know he has great control, but what does he need to do to get more consistent results?
\r\n
\r\nBrewer: Trust his stuff and be a bulldog on the mound. Not that he's not, it's just that he's here because he deserves to be here and he has to trust that he's capable, every time he goes out, to get the job done.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Recently you discussed how Eddie Kunz' performance for the rest of the season will illustrate whether his time in the starting rotation was worthwhile. What do you expect to see from him over the next couple of months?
\r\n
\r\nBrewer: We've started seeing it here in the last couple of weeks. Initially when he came out of the starting rotation, he had some trouble coming into the game establishing and throwing the ball over the plate. Here in the last few days, we've seen the guy come out of the bullpen and get two saves in Altoona, which has definitely got him on the right road, and that's what we're trying to see; consistency out of the bullpen in short stints versus that long stint having maybe the chance to get off the road and back on it. We want him to come in and get on it and stay on it.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Scott Shaw has had a rough go of it as a starter this year, but has pitched better out of the bullpen. Do you think he needed to be more aggressive with his fastball? Is the bullpen a more conducive environment for that?
\r\n
\r\nBrewer: Absolutely. We saw it early on out of the bullpen out of Scotty. He doesn't have to pace himself to go six, seven innings. He can come in and let it fly, knowing that he's got all night to rest and a chance to get back out there tomorrow. And I think he'll benefit from that, just because of that reason.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Mark Cohoon garnered a lot of attention with the way he had pitched in Savannah. He's a guy who won't overwhelm hitters with his fastball. What kind of challenges will he face now in Double-A?
\r\n
\r\n\r\nBrewer: Pretty much the same thing as Schwinden, same kind of category as Schwinden is in. He's got to trust his stuff. He has got to use the thought process and the stuff that he used and the way he used it in Savannah and make adjustments off of his style of pitching, versus allowing anything to enter into his mind from a negative standpoint, thinking that he's in Double-A, thinking that he has to do more.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: The most consistent starter here this season has been Michael Antonini. After a subpar 2009 Eastern League campaign, what kind of adjustments has he made this year?
\r\n
\r\nBrewer: Well, I think he came into the season in a healthier situation from a standpoint of being fresher. The winter before last year, he played winter ball and he had over 200 innings under his belt, so he was a little worn out when he came to Spring Training last year. I think that makes a difference, and the fact that he's learned to use his legs to gain better direction and momentum; I think it's allowing him to do things to both sides of the plate versus just one side of the plate.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Since returning from the disabled list, Eric Niesen seems to have rebounded physically, but has struggled with his location at times. What's the primary reason for Niesen's high walk rate?
\r\n
\r\nBrewer: I think that he just gets out of sync with his delivery and it kind of snowballs on him. Up to this point, he's lost focus a few times and that's when he's come out of the game early. He had a chance to do that (Friday) night, being in a jam with the bases loaded and nobody out, but it was a big step (Friday) night when he pitched out of that jam. A couple of weeks ago the kid may have folded up tent and said ‘that's it' from the standpoint of being able to focus and execute at the same time. (Friday) night he was more relaxed and he was able to focus. Because you can focus, you're able to execute; if you can't focus, you can't execute.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Roy Merritt has pitched a lot of innings out of the bullpen for you guys this year. What are you thoughts on how he has performed this season?
\r\n
\r\nBrewer: He started the season off hot as a firecracker, and ran into a situation there for a while where he had a spot that he wasn't throwing the ball as well as he did at the beginning. It looks to me like he's starting to rebound from that. It looks like he's going to be OK from the standpoint of throwing the ball down in the zone, and initiating contact so he gets that ground ball that he's capable of getting.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Derrick Ellison is a veteran lefty who's given some quality innings this year. How valuable has he been out of the bullpen?
\r\n
\r\nBrewer: He's been valuable all year, but in the last two weeks, he's springboarded into a situation where we want to use him in any situation; in situations where we just have to eat up innings, and also we're not afraid to bring him into a situation where the game is one the line.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Lastly, Jenrry Mejia has been sidelined with a posterior cuff strain. How close is he to returning? How will the injury affect the way he is handled when he does return?
\r\n
\r\nBrewer: Oh sure, it will affect the way he's handled from the standpoint of what his workload will be. As far as when he'll be back, I can't give you that information because I don't know. I haven't had any contact other than the initial contact we had when he went down with it. We're just waiting for the rehab program to take its toll on him to get him back to where he needs to be, so he can come back and compete with us.
\r\n
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