After returning from the DL on June 9th, John Holdzkom is starting to show the promise that lead to his September success with the Pirates last year. In 10 innings of work since being activated, Holdzkom has allowed just five hits and one run. As for the success, Holdzkom points to how his arm feels.
“Just being healthy is pretty much the only difference,” Holdzkom said. “When you aren’t healthy, you have something extra to think about on the mound and it just takes away from your stuff.”
Most importantly, Holdzkom has walked only a pair of hitters, while striking out 13. Prior to being shut down for a month, the tall right-hander walked 13 hitters and struck out 14 in 11.1 innings. During the early part of the season, Holdzkom was only throwing for about half of his pitches for strikes. Now, he is getting ahead of hitters and putting them away.
Part of the command issues could have been due to some mechanical changes to compensate for the pain. Holdzkom said that focusing on the injury had something to do with the struggles.
“I’m sure [that the injury] was altering mechanics,” Holdzkom said. “It is something that I can’t put my finger on, but when you can’t just focus on pitching, it takes away from you effectiveness.”
Now that he is pain-free, Holdzkom is able to focus solely on hitters and keeping them off base.
“It is nice to take the mound with confidence, rather than second guessing yourself,” Holdzkom said.
While the movement that led to much of the success last season is back, the velocity has fallen since his return. Prior to the DL stint, Holdzkom was throwing a much more flat ball, but was in the 95 to 97 range. Since returning, the life is there, but he was only in the 93 range in his outing on Sunday.
While Indianapolis manager Dean Treanor has noticed the velocity down a tad, he pointed to the movement as more of a key. Regardless, Holdzkom has earned the manager’s trust back.
“I think that he just feels healthy and that is the biggest factor,” Treanor said. “The velocity is not back yet to where we want it to be, but the cutter is back and he is pitching like he can and like he was. We just need to make sure that he is healthy and the velocity ticks up. I really like what I have seen his last three or four outings.”
Treanor said that the resurgence has Holdzkom “back on the radar,” and only time will tell how it plays out.