Lone Star Dugout Q&A: Joe Slusarski

FRISCO, Texas - In his first year as the pitching coach for Double-A Frisco, Joe Slusarski is getting to work with a talented pitching staff that includes Guillermo Moscoso, Kasey Kiker and Beau Jones. Lone Star Dugout chatted with Slusarski about that trio of pitchers on Tuesday afternoon.

Jason Cole: Guillermo Moscoso got the start today and gave up three runs in six innings. What are your thoughts on the way he pitched?

Joe Slusarski: I was very, very pleased with the way he executed the game plan that we've come up with. We wanted him to pitch inside more to right-handers, which he did very well today. He kept his composure save for the inning where he gave up the three runs. But even at that point, he kept it calm and he kept the ball down. He didn't run into any large, large innings. I was very pleased.

Cole: Does he throw both a curveball and a slider?

Slusarski: No, it's a curveball, but he throws it two separate speeds. So if he's behind in the count, he'll take some speed off of it. When he's ahead, he'll add a little bit to it.

Cole: Does he have a changeup and a splitter, or is it just one of those?

Slusarski: It's a changeup now. It's a straight change. He has done a fantastic job of adding that to his repertoire. He's worked very, very hard to get that command down so he can take it into the game. And now he has it. I don't see him losing it at all.

Cole: Did he come into the year throwing a splitter instead of the changeup?

Slusarski: We went between the straight change and the split in Spring Training. Kind of mixed results with both of them, so once we got here, we just decided the split wasn't going to be consistent enough. He went with the straight change—a four-seam grip—and it has been very effective for him. He keeps getting better with it every time out.

Cole: Kasey Kiker told me that he changed the grip on his curveball a couple of starts back.

Slusarski: Yeah, he's gone to a four-seam grip on his curveball now. That last outing there in Corpus Christi, it really showed up very, very nice for him. He just absolutely melted through some lefties and was very effective against some right-handers. So I think it's going to be a real good pitch for him.

Cole: What was the thought process behind changing to the four-seam curveball?

Slusarski: Just to get more spin. A little bit more spin, and maybe a bit more break. Kasey throws a lot of four-seam fastballs as well, so just them not being able to recognize spin helps. It has sharper, later break to it. And bite.

Cole: It seems like he is finally finding the consistency that he has been searching for over the last few seasons. How do you feel he has pitched this season as a whole?

Slusarski: I've been very, very impressed with Kasey in his work ethic and his ability to follow instruction, especially during the game. When you go out to tell Kasey things, he can execute it. That is something that is a maturity thing. And he buys in. With him, I see a maturity in the kid. I don't know that he didn't have it in the past, but he has it now. I see a very confident left-hander, and I see a kid that can execute.

Cole: Beau Jones is a guy who is in his first year of throwing a slider. How do you feel that pitch is coming along this season?

Slusarski: He's still in between. Beau has a delivery that has to be all right on for him to have a good release point and good command. I don't think that we've found a slider for him yet. We'll just keep on working. It works for a couple of games and then it's way off like you saw today. That's an inconsistency that we look to improve through repetition.

Cole: In his last outing, he had great control, getting five strikeouts and no walks in three innings. Were today's struggles due to his release point?

Slusarski: For me it is, yeah. He's had two really good extended three-inning stints. You can say he was due for a bad one, but to me, today was just a lack of being able to concentrate and focus. He gave up the triple down the line on the breaking ball and then the wheels fell off. He was unable to mitigate that damage and stop it from snowballing. He has some work to do in that area, and I'm going to challenge him all the time in that area. We're going to keep working with his release point and delivery.


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