ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

D-backs’ Brent Strom bullish on Brandon Pfaadt’s progression ahead of start

Jul 29, 2023, 3:30 PM | Updated: 4:01 pm

Brandon Pfaadt...

Brandon Pfaadt #32 of the Arizona Diamondbacks delivers a pitch in the first inning during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on May 20, 2023 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)

(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Arizona Diamondbacks pitching prospect Brandon Pfaadt remained in the starting rotation after putting together his longest MLB start last weekend against the Cincinnati Reds at six innings.

The right-hander adjusted the angles of his pitches by moving from the third-base side to the first-base side of the rubber, something familiar to him. The idea was to create better deception out of his hand, and his offspeed pitches were effective in Cincinnati.

Pfaadt’s next opportunity to prove himself in the big leagues is Saturday night against the Seattle Mariners.

“Before he was throwing balls out of his hand which became strikes, now we have pitches that are strikes that can become balls, which is what I was trying to achieve,” pitching coach Brent Strom said Tuesday.

“The changeup on righties down, the changeup away to lefties, the four-seam fastball up and in to right-handed hitters picking up speed. I’m kind of bullish right now on him. I just hope it carries over.”

Pfaadt said he stood on the right side of the mound through college and when he first got to the minor leagues. His idea of moving to the left side was to create deception between his fastball and slider. Last year, he struck out 200 batters, leading MiLB in punch outs and climbing prospect rankings.

The 24-year-old got clobbered in his first two stints with the D-backs this year, though, allowing 22 earned runs and nine homers in 25.2 innings pitched.

He started five games in May before getting optioned, came back up for one outing and was sent down again.

Pfaadt said he maintained a positive attitude despite the adversity, as he sought the needed adjustment to stick in MLB.

“He went back to the drawing board a little bit in Triple-A and made the most of his time there,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “That’s what I like to see. That’s what I want to see when guys go down there. They don’t mope around. They they get busy. And he did.”

His return against the Reds started precariously with bases loaded and no outs in the first. Strom said he was in prayer mode.

But Pfaadt struck out a pair of hitters and escaped the jam, throwing five shutout innings before the Reds clipped him for three solo shots in the sixth. He threw 21 changeups vs. the Reds, producing six whiffs and a pair of called strikes. He balanced it with the sweeper and lowered his fastball rate to 37%.

“With switching sides on the rubber … the changeup works better, so we’re probably going to use them a lot more,” Pfaadt said. “I think we can use it for righties, as well. Staying aggressive is the main key from last time, it was 0-2 or 1-2 the majority of the game when we were effective. So kind of stay right there.”

Strom said he wanted to tunnel Pfaadt’s pitches, to make them look the same out of his hand until they break. He explained that he tried to create something similar with Madison Bumgarner, who also has a three-quarter arm slot, but the rookie was more “forthcoming.” Strom concluded Pfaadt starting from the third-base side did not hide his fastball or sweeper as well.

 

With Zach Davies remaining on the 15-day injured list (back), the D-backs had to rely on Pfaadt to build off his last start.

Seattle will send rookie Bryan Woo to the mound at Chase Field.

First pitch is at 5:10 p.m. on 98.7, the Arizona Sports app and ArizonaSports.com.

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