Steve Webber: Yeah. A little later, right before he left, he made some adjustments with his arm stroke and his stuff got better. I didn't notice a lot of difference.
The thing I noticed about Will this year compared to last year is he threw a lot more strikes this year, and he was able to locate his fastball better. Last year, he led the Texas League in strikeouts, but he also led the Texas League in walks. So there was a tremendous reduction in number of walks, which I think is a good indication he's on the right path.
Corey Kluber comes to you mid-season. For him, it seemed to be also a case of a high number of walks and commanding the fastball.
Steve Webber: Yes. I think he scuffled a little bit with the move from High-A to Double-A, which there is really no need for him to do because his stuff is very good. He had some growing pains early. He was very erratic with his fastball.
In the last two outings, he just put it altogether. I think he probably realized that he was giving hitters too much credit, became more aggressive with his fastball, pitched more to contact. His slider and changeup were very good. So I think it was a matter of him getting acclimated to a higher level and understanding that his pitches are going to work there.
You saw Mat Latos for nine starts. He was so good that it was hard not to promote him to the major leagues. Is that fair?
Terry Kennedy: Well I think he was ready for that based on his stuff. His fastball, he pitched 94-95 mph. His slider was well above average, as well as his changeup.
He's a young guy, it's just a matter of him maturing and feeling comfortable at that level. Obviously, he had a lot of success in Double-A, maybe the most talented pitcher we saw there in that league, based on his stuff and had some success at the major league level. I think the future's very bright for Matt.
Cory Luebke is another guy who was promoted halfway through. What did you see from Cory during his time with you?
Steve Webber: He was inconsistent. He would flash you, in particular games, innings, he'd flash two plus major league pitches, a fastball and a slider. In other games, he would just become erratic and inconsistent.
I think that the stuff is there. It's just a matter of him being able to repeat his delivery and repeat the quality of his pitches over the long haul.
Is part of that the revamping of his delivery and getting him to finish with the follow-through?
Steve Webber: I'm not sure about that. I just saw someone that was very talented and someone that just needs to get more innings under his belt. His delivery, for the most part, is there. There are some things he might need to correct, but none of the things you've seen or talked about in the past. I just think it's a matter of him gaining experience. There is more upside to him. I just think he needs more innings under his belt at the higher levels.
Evan Scribner had some struggles in the July/August area. What caused the issues and what got him out of that?
Steve Webber: He got off to a very good start. He was saving almost every game we put him into, and then he hit a bump in the road he had some blown save opportunities. His stuff is still good. I think it was more – mentally the role of a closer caught up with him a little bit. He's young. I don't think he spent a whole year as a closer at any level.
What we did is we gave him a break of about two weeks, two or three weeks and took him out of the closer's role. Let him work when the game wasn't on the line, and I think he just needed a break from that role and came back and pitched very well. He saved his last two opportunities in the regular season and pitched very well in the playoffs. I think it's more mental than anything.
His pitches were still good, although his curveball wasn't quite as sharp early. He hit a little rough spot with that, and then he came back in his last few games, but I think it's more of a mental issue just the burden of going out there every outing that he was asked to save the game for us. It has nothing to do with his mental toughness. I just think it has more to do with he got a little bit stale and we got him out of there and then he came back strong again.
Were you happy with the overall performance of the pitching staff and its ability to hold runners and be quick to the plate?
Steve Webber: We made a lot of improvements there, and a lot of that had to do with Terry Kennedy emphasizing that, at this level, we have to be able to hold control a running game. I think with that emphasis we got better at it, and I didn't really see any emphasis on the pitchers. I know Terry was pleased and I was too. It really showed up, especially the last two-thirds of the season when we started placing more emphasis on having quicker delivery time. So yes, I think that was a huge improvement over the past.
What was your overall impression of Mitch Canham from the perspective of the pitching coach. How did he handle the pitching staff?
Steve Webber: Well, I saw improvements. He has limited experience as a catcher, and it goes back to the college game - he didn't start catching till he was in college. The college game is you get the signal from the dugout, put the fingers down, give it to the pitcher and he throws it. There's very little thought process that goes on in terms of what are the pitcher's strengths, what are the hitter's strengths, what's the count, and so on. I think he made great strides as the year went along.
As far as leadership goes, Mitch is a great leader, and there's no question about that. The pitchers have a lot of respect for him.
I think with any college catcher they have a huge number of things that they have to be aware of, and, of course, first is their ability to receive, block, throw, and that goes along with the offensive side of it. The thing that probably comes along a little bit later is game management. I do think he made some improvements.
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