Matt Buschmann looks back on failure, success

While the Lake Elsinore Storm were competing in the playoffs, the fire in Matt Buschmann's eyes were burning. He wanted the rock but had been shutdown. Still, it was a successful season for the Vanderbilt alumnus.

When you look back on the season, did you meet your own expectations?

Matt Buschmann: I think I did. Early on, I wasn't doing what I thought I should be doing. I think I was struggling mechanically. The biggest thing for me this season, being my first full season, was going through that down period and being able to climb back up. I haven't really gone through that before where I was clueless where I was pitching-wise with no confidence. To come back from that and have the second half I did was good.

How difficult was it to be sitting on the bench during playoff time?

Matt Buschmann: It was tough. That was the one thing on my mind – this DL thing doesn't hurt my career but the most frustrating thing was to pitch the whole season, feel good down the stretch and the thing you build for is the playoffs. I love that atmosphere. In the minor leagues, you get that buzz in the locker room and bench. It is a cool feeling. You get that adrenaline going. It would have been cool to pitch in the playoffs and feel that and just to show people you can pitch when it matters – the playoffs.

It was frustrating. Hopefully, looking back in three years I will be glad I took it easy since I have done ‘this' since then.

What were the changes you made. I know when we talked early in the year you mentioned when the elbow drops things tend to flatten out.

Matt Buschmann: I think the problem was I was a little slow with my mechanics and my arm angle was actually up. I lost the sink that I usually have.

When I am good, my tempo is a little quicker and my arm angle is down a little bit, lower three-quarters. When I get away from that and things start to slow down that is when I start to drift one way or the other and things don't go over the plate right.

How have you grown from last year to this year?

Matt Buschmann: I think the biggest thing is being able to just critique myself, being able to get through a full season and critique my outings on a full season basis – 25 to 30 starts and going from there. In college you only have 15 starts and there is a long time in between. Here you don't have much time to make adjustments.

Aside from that being able to breakdown hitters on my own, keeping scouting reports and taking that from game to game.

Are you staying after the game to do the reports or how are the scouting reports being accumulated?

Matt Buschmann: I kept a little journal this year. After each one of my starts I would go in the journal and write little things about the game, how I felt – an after analysis.

The next day I would get my chart and see how I got guys out and what they saw – write that down. We had a spray chart. You write down things you remember. As soon as you catch a hole you expose it.

Some guys are harder to find than others but once you find it you write it down and get them next time.

You write down this particular spot to hit for a hitter – does that take you out of your game as you try and be too fine?

Matt Buschmann: I think you always keep that spot in the back of your mind. You don't say that is the end all. For some guys, if he struggles with fastballs in – you definitely go fastball in to get him thinking about that, ‘I struggle hitting the fastball in and I know he is going to come back in there.' Then you can go away; you open a lot of other holes when you find one hole.

It is a mind game.

Matt Buschmann: It definitely is. You want to trick hitters. Being able to find the fine line between throwing your best stuff and throwing to your strengths while throwing to their weaknesses. There is a fine line. The best games are when their weaknesses are built into your strengths and go from there.

Last off-season you had a plan going into this year. How are you going to change it now that you know what a full season is really all about?

Matt Buschmann: I was talking to (Mike Couchee) Cooch about that. This off-season, for me, is really important. I have been through Spring Training and a full season. I know where my body needs to be and where my arm needs to be going into Spring Training. I learned a lot in my last off-season, making adjustments there of when I start throwing. I have a lot of lessons learned from this season.

Looking at guys like Chase Headley and Josh Geer – those guys made their big jumps after their first full season. That is the biggest thing – after the first full season, taking things, learning from it and really making gains. That is the main goal – go into the off-season and have some confidence because now I know what to expect.

How do you make gains from the second half of the year? It was pretty impressive.

Matt Buschmann: It wasn't bad. That big "C" word – confidence. The biggest thing is keeping that confidence through a whole season. In college I struggled early in the season getting into a rhythm.

My goal coming into the year is starting right off the bat, feeling good and having my pitches there. I know that is tougher to do. At least feel comfortable going out there rather than searching around for stuff. That would be the best goal – confident for the whole season.

Is there a pitch you want to work on?

Matt Buschmann: Changeup – the changeup, always. I don't think I can throw it enough for strikes at this point. I threw a lot of fastballs this year and I felt good with that. I got my slider – that is a hit or miss pitch sometimes but for the most part I had it. The changeup – I want to be able to throw it in 2-1 or 1-1 counts, especially at the next level where you can't throw a fastball in a fastball count. Even if you put it in a good spot, the hitters get better and will be able to get to that pitch. I want to be able to have the confidence to throw it whenever I want. Sometimes I had it and sometimes I didn't. I want to have it every game as a go-to pitch if I need it.


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