MadFriars' Interview:  Cory Luebke

Last year Cory Luebke was the best pitcher in the Padres organization with a 10-1 record between San Antonio and Portland. This year he is sticking with the big club in a different role coming out of the bullpen. We caught up with him in DC to see how the adjustment is going.

Washington DC:  Cory Luebke was a first round supplemental pick by the San Diego Padres in the 2007 draft out of Ohio State University.  A former three sport star in high school the athletic Luebke's velocity and command has picked up every year since he's been in the organization.

In 2010 he had the top performance of any Padres' farm hand with a 10-1 record between AAA Portland and AA San Antonio.  The 6'4" left-hander's velocity has picked up but he is not an overpowering pitcher instead relying upon a good two-seam fastball, sweeping slider and developing change.

With the injury to Joe Thatcher, Luebke, 26, has taken over as the left-hander out of the bullpen.

We caught up with him in on the Padres' last road trip to find out the reasons behind his success last year and his adjustments to life as a relief pitcher.

How tough is it to get used to not starting? Being in the bullpen must be a very different mindset.

Cory Luebke: It is different but its still getting guys out. Although I would rather be relieving here than starting every fifth day in Tucson.

Is there any change in the pitches that you emphasize as opposed to being a starter?

Cory Luebke: It really depends on the situation. As a lefty specialist out of the bullpen I tend to throw a little more off-speed than I am used too.

At that point of the game sometimes you know someone's weakness a little more so you kind of pitch to that instead of going right at guys with hard stuff.

How much do you take advantage of all the data you have available to you here as opposed to in the minors?

Cory Luebke: You get used to it. I always want to pitch to my strengths but if you see that someone has very heavy tendencies a certain way you are going to use that information.

Everybody is their own pitcher and you don't want to get away from your strengths but you also want to utilize the information at hand.

You were so-so in '08, good in '09 and very good last year. What were the reasons for your improvement?

Cory Luebke: The biggest thing in '08 was Mike Couchee and Wally Whitehurst just cleaning up my delivery. I went through some growing pains on trying to change it but I am really glad that I did. I just have a much better feel for what is going on with my body.

Was it being more upright?

Cory Luebke: That was part of it. That and keeping my weight back. It sounds simple but it was a little more than that.

You are always trying to prove something. Last year I really made an effort to throwing the fastball to both sides of the plate and really locating it throughout the zone. Also just trying to always continue getting better with my off-speed.

A fastball means so many things. Which fastball do you throw more off four-seam or two-seam?

Cory Luebke: Usually two-seamer in and four-seamer away. The key is to put it on both sides of the plate.

The two-seamer seems the toughest to control. Was that true with you?

Cory Luebke: For me it was because I have always been a four-seamer and cutter guy. Its a bit of a different grip, but I can put it all over the zone.

When we were talking to Anthony Bass in San Antonio he was happy that the team doesn't have the twenty percent change-up rule anymore. As someone who went through it all the way up how much did that help or hurt you?

Cory Luebke: Oh it helped me. Coming out of college I didn't throw a changeup so it made me do something that I wasn't comfortable with. The best way is to become comfortable with it when you are not that confident in that pitch.

What is the biggest thing you are tying to improve upon to get where you want to be?

Cory Luebke: Consistency. All the minor leaguers have the talent to play up here but its just a question if you can do it more days than not. Everyday when I am out there on the mound I want to know where my stuff is going to go.

Doesn't always happen that way, but that is what makes the game challenging.


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