FORT MYERS, Fla. — Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?
Minnesota’s left-handed reliever Craig Breslow has learned a brand new one, completely retooling his delivery in preparation for the 2017 season.
Breslow struggled last season. He spent April and May pitching ineffectively for the Marlins, was sent to the minors and eventually was cut.
But the 15-year veteran had one more trick up his sleeve. Literally. He overhauled his pitching mechanics, changing his arm slot to increase the effectiveness of pitches.
Instead of using a high three-quarters delivery, Breslow now uses a low three-quarters slot, almost a sidearm-style motion.
The result? Increased movement on his pitches.
“The difference was sometimes five or six inches. That felt like it could be effective,” Breslow told Phil Miller of the Star Tribune.
Another unintended benefit? Less stress on his well-used arm.
“As I lowered my angle, the velocity went up and the stress went down,” Breslow said. “The obvious conclusion is, ‘Why didn’t I do this years ago?’ “
Despite posting ERAs above 4.0 for each of the last three seasons, coming into the 2017 season, Breslow received multiple contract offers. After the 10-team bidding war subsided, he settled on an incentive-laden minor league contract with the Twins.
While it is too early to tell if the work will pay off in games, one thing is certain, it has already kept Breslow employed, at least for one more year.