Padres Prospect Interview: Matt Buschmann

SAN ANTONIO, TX: Matt Buschmann calls himself a slow starter. For the second year in a row, the right-hander has struggled out of the gate. His finish, however, has been extraordinary.

After posting an ERA above 4.00 in successive months to open the year, Buschmann has not gone above 2.75 across the next three months of action.

He credits limiting his pitch count and the refinement of his changeup to the success this season.

Can you talk about your season to date and the progression you have made from the start of the year until now.

Matt Buschmann: The first five or six outings, I was throwing a lot of pitches and wasn't really able to get out of the fifth inning. Part of it was I was throwing 90-some-odd pitches in five innings, which was frustrating. I may have had some strikeouts but that is not really the type of pitcher I am. I need to be an efficient pitcher, pitch down in the zone. I have gotten to the point where I am throwing less pitches per inning and not picking at the zone. I am happy with that.

If I can pitch down, they will hit ground balls and I will be more efficient.

Do you feel like early in the season you were picking at the zone and that led to the increased pitch count?

Matt Buschmann: Part of it was mental. It was a mix of picking and being early in the year and not having my pitches to the point where I was really, really comfortable with them. I think I will always be a pitcher that, for the first month of the season because I throw across my body, will have to get that rhythm and release point.

It was a combination of being early in the year and picking at the zone, thinking too much about a strikeout.

I guess it begs the question: what is Spring Training for in regards to regaining the feel for your pitching style?

Matt Buschmann: (laughs) Spring Training is getting loosened up for that first month. I think it just takes me a while to get going.

Plus, I am always trying to get my changeup working and the last few months I have had the changeup and that has allowed me to be more efficient.

Spring Training, for me, is to try to get everything going. It is also getting in pitching shape and mental shape. You put on a lot of weight and muscle in the off-season and now you are loosening up. Then it is getting the mental side, being game-ready for ‘this is when it counts.' Getting the adrenaline going and tempering it over the first month of the season.

I have heard stories from Greg Riddoch down in Eugene that you are a big note taker on the opposition. Is that true?

Matt Buschmann: I keep a book of everybody I face. I have a book on all the teams in here. It helps. A lot of these guys have seen my face from Lake Elsinore. I have been able to go back and say, ‘Ok, this is what happened. This is what I was able to do last year.'

Just in general, looking at an organizational philosophy and what they do. I think four or five guys in every lineup I have faced before. Having that knowledge has helped this year, especially when I am seeing a team for the first time. It is so easy to go in blind but I have some information and prior knowledge.

Do you ever go up to take the hill and realize there is just too much information going through your head and it affects you on the mound?

Matt Buschmann: Webby (pitching coach Steve Webber) gets all kinds of mad sometimes because I start thinking too many hitters ahead or we will be sitting and talking about the hitters and I will be thinking, ‘This, this and that.'

A lot of times it is just going out and pitching your game and pitching to your strengths. Sometimes, I can over-think. I get away from my best pitch or I make it too complex.

You mentioned the changeup coming around for you since early in the year. Is there some sort of tweak you made to get the expected results?

Matt Buschmann: I did. I changed my grip a little bit. I used to have sort of a two-seam grip and I think that caused me to try to turn it over too much. Now, I have a fastball spin. I went to a four-seam grip and it enables me to get on top of it a little bit better. It may not have as sharp of movement down but I have better arm speed and it comes out of my hand like a fastball.

To build confidence, it is getting swings and getting good feedback in the game. It may not move a lot so off the bat you might say, ‘Oh, it is not moving much – maybe they will hit it.' To be able to throw it and see rough swings on it, guys out in front – that gives you a lot more confidence in it.

Matt Buschmann: I think I am. Throwing fastballs into those guys and then being able to go changeup out – I have always had confidence in my slider and wrapping it around a lefties feet. Being able to have that third pitch when they are thinking, ‘This guy likes to wrap sliders' – if I can drop that in every once and a while it helps quite a lot.

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