street. LOUIS — When Michael Lorenzen was a young player with the Cincinnati Reds, he was messing around. He was not satisfied with his results. He posted a 5.40 ERA in his 2015 rookie season, a 2.88 ERA his sophomore year, and a 4.45 ERA in 2017. He couldn’t figure out why he was struggling, or how to find consistency.
He assumed he was doing something wrong. Lorenzen recalls a night in St. Louis in 2017 when he stayed up until 4 a.m., poring over a book by famed pitching coach Tom House in hopes of finding an answer on how to fix his mechanics. He pitched a no-hitter inning against the Cardinals a few hours ago, but that didn’t leave him satisfied.
“I literally had no idea what I was doing,” Lorenzen said. “I was in my third season in the big leagues, and I had no idea what I was doing.”
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He wishes someone would tell him he’s an archer whose outings are sometimes affected by luck. Lorenzen suggests calling. He hits a lot of ground balls and fly balls. It can make his numbers swing dramatically.
This season was a good example of that. Before the Phillies acquired Lorenzen from the Detroit Tigers at the trade deadline, he had finished a career month with a 1.14 ERA in July. In June, he had a 5.30 ERA. in May? 1.95 ERA. in April? Epoch 7.07. This is it everyone Because of luck? No, but it affects Lorenzen more than pitchers who live and die by the strike.
This is a difficult existence to navigate, and right now, Lorenzen is living in the midst of it. In five starts since not hitting on August 9, he has allowed 23 earned runs and 11 walks with just 14 strikeouts. There are some factors other than luck to consider. Lorenzen plays in a tougher division in the NL East than he did with the Tigers in the AL Central. His walk rate increased and his strikeout rate decreased in the second inning. He gave up more contact, and had difficulty finishing with two strikes.
But despite that, he doesn’t feel the results speak to how he presents it. During those five starts, he moved from baseball history — the cleats in Cooperstown — to the bullpen, a place he never wanted to return to in the first place.
Lorenzen, 31, spent most of his big league career in the bullpen. He was loyal in college. Most beginners are concerned with routine and don’t feel like they have time to get ready out of the bullpen, but that was never a problem for him.
His speed increases when he throws in relief. He’s able to get away with mistakes he might not be able to make when facing a lineup multiple times. He’s already reached a career high of 148 innings and we’re halfway through September. All of which is to say he understands why the Phillies moved him there, and he wants to help. But it’s not a place he wants to stay for long.
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“They would use me all the time,” Lorenzen said of his years with the Reds. “I’d throw the eighth inning of a game, and the next day I’d throw 2⅓. It’s always been a lot of different innings for me. I’ll start in September. I saved four runs one year.”
“It’s been like this for seven years. I think they liked it, but the officiating didn’t care about any of that. For me, it was like I was throwing my body through the wringer, and in officiating, none of that mattered. So this It’s the tough place. These teams claim they like diversity, but they never pay for it. So why would a player commit to doing that?
In Lorenzen’s case, it’s because he wants to win. On Sunday morning, a few hours before the game against the Cardinals, he stopped by head coach Rob Thompson’s office. Thompson had just announced that the right-handed pitcher would be behind Christopher Sanchez on Tuesday in Atlanta, but Lorenzen wanted to make sure his manager knew he was available to play as soon as possible.
“I told him what I had to offer the team,” Lorenzen said. “I told him I haven’t thrown in eight days. So, if you want me out of the pen today, I will do it. When you feel you need me, feel free to let me know. I will help you.”
“In a situation like this, where you’re playing for a team that was in the World Series last year, and all the players are fully committed to winning, I say, ‘Hey, I don’t care what happens.’ The role is mine. I don’t care how it all happens. Let’s go out and let’s win.”
“What is the root cause of all this stress?”
Lorenzen is at his best when he has faith. He’s a devout Christian, and for him that means faith in God, but it also means faith in himself, faith in his stadium, faith in his players and the players behind him.
The past five starts have been frustrating because he’s been feeling good for the most part. His stuff was good. But his strikeout rate dropped to 11.5% and his walk rate rose to 9.0%. However, he felt the numbers were a bit fluctuating.
By Lorenzen’s start on September 5 in San Diego, his stress level had reached a new high. He was cruising, allowing one hit over three innings, then allowing a solo home run to Fernando Tatis Jr. in the fourth. Two more rounds were scored at the player’s choice a few strokes later.
On the sixth, he encountered “an absolute nightmare.” He loaded the bases, induced some ground balls, and a lineout from Luis Camposano, none of which turned into outs. By the time he got off the mound, he had allowed seven runs.
“This is where all that weight hits you at once,” Lorenzen said. “The nightmare you were afraid of happened. But in retrospect, that was a good thing for me. My wife, Cassie, and I had a great conversation after the game. We dug into it, and said, ‘What’s the root cause of all this stress? What’s the root cause of all this stress?’ that?
They came to the conclusion that Lorenzen was thinking too much. He was looking for stability in things he could not control.
“I basically played on one-year deals for nine seasons,” he said. “Before you play, you’re trying to prove yourself to stay. In arbitration, they’re all one-year deals, basically. And then you get to free agency, you get these one-year deals, and you have to prove yourself, every year, every outing, for nine Years. There was never a time for me where I said, ‘Oh, I’ve got three years here, and this is what I’m doing.’
“If that’s the case, when I go out and play, if I have a bad outing, it’ll be OK. Keep going. Fill the zone. Trust your stuff. But for me, every start counts next year. Every start, every time “I’m being evaluated. It adds a lot (pressure). Really just trusting God – I know he’s going to be there. I don’t need a multi-year deal to promote peace. But that’s what God kind of showed me – you’re really holding on to a multi-year deal. Stability in the contract.”
“Looking inwardly, every time I get the ball, I think, ‘If I got that guy’s deal, I would take the ball and fill the area and be brave.’ Because I don’t have to do anything. It’s done. But why can’t I go there? And to do it now? So that was really good for me.
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He went into the Braves’ start with one intention: to throw every pitch with “complete confidence.” Lorenzen realized that when he wasn’t doing that, he was biting, and hitters would take him. He will find himself in unfavorable accounts.
So, against the Braves on September 11, try to stay in the strike zone. His final streak wasn’t pretty – he earned four runs in five innings. He gave up a two-run home run to Matt Olson, but he can live with that. His stuff, body and mind felt good.
“You have to have confidence in what you’re doing,” he said. “That’s exactly what I did in the at-bat, the last few innings. Because I knew my pitch count was too high, I was trying to give it up. I was like, ‘Go ahead, cut it,’ because if you walk around guys and you’re worried about contact, you’re going to get out.” From this match in the seventh and eighth rounds.
“Just get it over with, throw it in the strike zone, and it’ll happen. I’ll go to sleep at night, give up six out of every five innings, or whatever it is. I’m not happy about it, but I’m confident that the way I threw the ball, I could have It easily goes the other way too.
Lorenzen believes this mentality will help him move forward. He believes he’s a better pitcher when he doesn’t feel the weight of every outing. He looks back at that time, in 2017, when he stayed up late reading House’s books, and sees growth. He now knows that patching is not the answer. But there is still more room for growth.
“Of course, I want to finish the year with a low 3.00 ERA,” Lorenzen said. “But going from the top — being able to throw a ball aimlessly — to throwing my worst baseball all year, five starts in a row, it really made me believe in myself. It made me look in the mirror and grow as a person. Learning how to deal with that was good for me.” .
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