Change in tempo pays off for Wolf
MILWAUKEE — A year ago, Randy Wolf put together a career-best season with the Dodgers.
From start to finish, Wolf was one of the league’s most consistent pitchers as he posted a handful of career-best numbers, including 214 1/3 innings pitched and a 1.101 WHIP.
Opening the 2010 season with the Milwaukee Brewers, that consistency seemed to escape Wolf. He looked nothing like the pitcher he was for Los Angeles, stumbling out to a 4-6 record with a 5.31 ERA through 13 starts in the first two months of the season.
“I just knew something wasn’t right,” Wolf said of his struggles.
Over that stretch, Wolf mixed in impressive outings, as he tossed six scoreless innings at Pittsburgh on April 20 and seven scoreless against the Astros on May 25. More frequently, however, Wolf struggled, as he did in allowing eight runs over 4 2/3 on June 9 to the Cubs.
As he watched his club’s newly acquired veteran left-hander struggle, Brewers pitching coach Rick Peterson struggled himself as he searched for an answer.
“You’re trying to pinpoint what exactly it is. Why exactly is he struggling? What’s different from the year before and this year?” Peterson said.
“So I went and I looked at all the pitch f/x information going back three years, taking a look at his vertical and horizontal movement on all his pitches, and the velocities on all his pitches. They were all the same. It was actually identical.”
If his stuff was the same early in 2010 as it was throughout the last three seasons, why were Wolf’s numbers so much more inconsistent?
Following his rough outing on June 9, Wolf bounced back, going 3-2 with a 3.25 ERA over his next seven starts. Wolf’s next start after that stretch, July 21 at Pittsburgh, was his worst yet. Entering with a 4.56 ERA, Wolf surrendered a career-high 12 runs on 13 hits over 5 2/3 innings pitched, causing his ERA to jump to 5.20.
While that Pittsburgh outing certainly was forgettable, the silver lining was that it marked the date Peterson and Wolf finally figured out what change was necessary.
“The difference, from this year to past, was that he just wasn’t making pitches,” Peterson said. “For whatever reason, he was missing location consistently. Everything else was the same, but that makes a huge difference.
“What I think had happened was that his slow tempo had worked for a long period of time, but now it was almost so slow that it was affecting his release point and his ability to execute pitches.”
For more on Wolf’s adjustments since that rough outing Pittsburgh on July 26, watch for the full story on Brewers.com later today.
– Jordan Schelling, Associate Reporter