Lail Following The Game Plan

TRENTON, NJ - Brady Lail, 21, began the season at Single-A, where he started one game and struck out 9 in five innings of work, before being moved to the Trenton Thunder. At the Double-A level, he has changed his approach and finds himself in the midst of a standout season.

After a 17-inning loss to the Binghamton Mets and with the bullpen worn thin, Brady Lail tossed a complete game, two-hit shutout on Saturday, improving on what has already been a breakout campaign.

“It was outstanding,” manager Al Pedrique said. “I don’t think you can ask for anything better than that. He gave the bullpen needed rest. All the guys were very happy after the game, and I told them they need to take him out for a nice dinner.”

The career day lowered Lail’s ERA to 2.14 on the season, keeping in the top five in the Eastern league in that category entering Thursday's contest.

He believes the shutout was a product of his ability to control all of his pitches, as well the support from his catcher, Eddy Rodriguez.

“It was the fastball command; it really got me going with all of my pitches and gave me the confidence,” Lail said. “Eddy Rodriguez called a great game. I’ve got to give the big guy credit, he just helped me calm down when it started getting later in the game.”

The right-hander’s final line was nine innings, two hits, one walk and four strikeouts on just 108 pitches — 79 for strikes. Yet, Lail’s ability to get outs despite his inability to generate swings and misses has been something of an anomaly this season.

After striking out 116 batters in 134 1/3 innings last season, Lail has just 70 strikeouts in 105 1/3 innings pitched so far in 2015 prior to Thursday's game. However, Trenton’s pitching coach, Jose Rosado, explains that his low strikeout total is a product of the approach Rosado has instilled in Lail this season.

“To be a starting pitcher and to reach 200 innings in the big leagues, strikeouts are good, but you [don’t need to] strike anybody out until you have one out and a runner on third — then you want to get a strikeout,” Rosado said. “Before and after that, you should just make one pitch at a time, make a good one and let them swing the bat. If they get into an 0-2 count, then you take your chance.”

Lail grew up watching the Braves and says he models his game after former Brave Tim Hudson, who has had a highly decorated career, despite similarly low strikeout rates.

“My parents were die-hard Braves fans growing up and Tim Hudson was just someone that every time I watched TV, he was on,” Lail said. “He really was a big influence on my 2-seam fastball. The guy has unbelievable stuff and he’s still in his prime, I believe, so he was definitely a big pitcher that I looked up to.”

He has no plans to change his approach to cater to the thought process that you have to miss bats to be successful because he tried that earlier in the season and didn’t prosper.

“When I came up here, I somewhat struggled because I thought I had to throw harder and I thought I had to make my curveball and other pitches nastier,” he said. “I started clicking and realizing [I needed] to get back to what kind of pitcher I really am, and that’s just getting ahead of guys, trying to get them to ground out, save my arm, and save my bullets. But really it’s just going out there and not trying to do too much.”

Pedrique thinks it won’t be long before the 6-foot-2 right-hander will be the next in line to join Luis Severino, Aaron Judge, and Greg Bird in moving up to Triple-A.

“Even though he’s pitching well now, he just needs to continue working hard and consistent with his location, especially with his fastball — he has a tendency to overthrow it,” Pedrique said. “That’s one thing that the pitching coach, Rosado, has been working on with him, making sure he stays down through the zone and we’re just waiting for the phone call to move up.”

Lail trusts that if he continues to follow the game plan he’s at this whole season and builds off of what successes he has enjoyed, he’ll be able to continue to help the Thunder win.

“Just keep maturing, keep learning the game, keep learning pitch sequences, reading the hitters, and just stay healthy and give these guys a chance to win, and get to the playoff spots. I know this team is capable of doing that. So I just want to be a part of that and give these guys a chance to win.”

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