Over the weekend I chatted with Double-A Reading pitching coach Dave Lundquist, who spoke about his staff. Among the topics are new addition Jake Thompson, standout starter Zach Eflin, team saves record holder Stephen Shackleford the injured Ben Lively (shoulder strain) and more. Read ahead for all the exclusive remarks from “Lundy”…
-Since being acquired in the deal for Cole Hamels, Jake Thompson has gone 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA in three games started. In his latest out, he kept the team in it and earned a win despite walking five. If I asked him, he probably wouldn’t like his output, based on the walks. What are your thoughts on his latest effort?
They never want to see that, but you’ve got a situation where a guy can command four pitches and the misses, the fastball was moving a little too much off the plate. But, you have a guy that’s able to find a way to limit the damage to just two runs on a solo home run and you don’t want the walks but you’ve got a competitor that’s able to find a way to pitch around them.
-Zach Eflin had a strong outing in the weekend series against Trenton, going seven scoreless frames. What have you seen from Zach lately?
For me, (Friday) night was the best I’ve seen Zach in, since early in the year. You know, he commanded the fastball, probably had the best movement, slider was as good in and out of the zone as it’s been and he had a plus change up. The thing that has helped Zach a lot is we added a curve ball. I’ve kept it on the side a lot and made him develop it and get it game ready, but his last two starts he’s used it and it’s a very good weapon. It’s already a solid average and maybe at times a touch above major league average pitch. It helps him out a lot.
-Was the curve a completely new pitch for him or just something that he hadn’t thrown since coming over in the Jimmy Rollins trade last off-season?
It was something that he threw in high school, but he was more of a power guy. He was wanting to throw it a lot early in the year, but at that point we really needed to get that slider to be a consistent major league pitch and then once we achieved that, it was matter of let’s get this (other) pitch game ready and let’s- I don’t want him going out there and getting hurt on a pitch that’s not ready, but he probably was working on it three weeks to a month before we unleashed it in games and we made sure we got it right before we went out and put it in games. It’s been a good weapon for him.
-Shackleford seems really locked in and recently notched the team saves record. How big has he been for the team?
I love Shack back there. It takes a different mindset to close a lot of the games. You get different situations in different stadiums in different lineups and you know and you have to have a specific plan and I love him back there. He’s got the right mindset and the right mentality for that role.
-Has he been just lights out, making it an easy call to put him out there in those spots?
He’s been very good. There was a little stretch early where he got into a little funk, but he was able to right the ship and figure out to get back to who he is as a pitcher.
-Ben Lively missed a start here with the shoulder issue. I saw him throwing a bit pre-game. What’s his status for a return to action?
He started just playing a little catch (Saturday). We’ve just going to go day to day. We’ve got a throwing program started for him. Hopefully, around another week or so. It’s late in the year. He’s already got a lot of innings and I want to make sure everything we do is in his best interest, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to be anything major.
-What vibe do you get from the team toward this chase of a division title and a league championship?
You see a lot of confidence. You can see it. It’s within sight. The guys they know where they’re at. I think the closer the games are and you get to the end, the guys are having more fun with it. When you talk about developing winning players, that’s what does it. I think they’re in a pretty good place.
-Something else I wanted to ask was about the other new guys, aside from Thompson. What can you share about Jimmy Cordero and Nick Pivetta?
Cordero, you got a huge arm. A guy that can light up the gun. He’s even got a pretty good slider and a pretty good curve ball. You know, just a matter of him not trying to throw 105. You got a real nice arm there, a guy that has a chance to be a power arm at the back end of a major league bullpen.
And Pivetta, another power guy. He can run the fastball up there mid-to-upper 90’s as well. Power curve ball and he’s got a pretty good feel for a change up, so I like that package also. We’ve got some pretty good arms and some guys that know how to pitch.