Diamondbacks’ Kevin Ginkel honing in on adjustment to landing platform

May 16, 2024, 7:55 AM | Updated: 8:26 am

pitcher Kevin Ginkel...

Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Kevin Ginkel against the San Francisco Giants during a baseball game in San Francisco, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

PHOENIX — Diamondbacks setup man Kevin Ginkel has not been as sharp as he wants to be, but he and Arizona’s pitching coaches have identified a mechanical adjustment to focus on.

Ginkel has allowed runs in three of his last four outings, letting eighth-inning leads slip Saturday at the Baltimore Orioles and Monday against the Cincinnati Reds.

The right-hander was a breakout star for the D-backs in the second half of last season and took on a higher-leverage role with closer Paul Sewald missing the first six weeks of 2024 with an oblique strain. Manager Torey Lovullo said there are no plans to move Ginkel out of the high-leverage spot.

“What I’ve been seeing it’s like when I land, my front foot doesn’t stay anchored to the ground. So when I land on my foot with all that force, the energy kind of goes into my toes right away. So I lose a lot of momentum going toward home,” Ginkel told Arizona Sports.

“I’ve been working on trying to stay anchored. When my front foot lands, keep it grounded and then drive forward instead of hopping out of it. I’ve always had that in my career, that weird recoil … but I’m just not transferring my weight and energy as properly as I’d like. … I think that’s going to help my stuff.”

Pitching coach Brent Strom told Lovullo moments after Monday’s walk-off win he planned to hit the tape right away to figure out what was holding Ginkel back.

The next day, Strom briefed Lovullo on Ginkel’s front side and landing tweaks.

Ginkel had a 2.48 ERA last year with a 27.5% strikeout rate. The ERA has climbed to 4.15 this season after a tough week with 21.6% strikeouts — even with a lower walks clip.

The fastball (94.4 mph exit velocity) has been hit harder, but at the same time, Ginkel is only 17.1 innings into the season.

“It’s kind of one of those weird things where it’s like, the games I’ve had have bundled together,” Ginkel said. “If I had one bad one and then the next couple were good, it’s no big deal. But just the last few games, it hasn’t gone results-wise the way I wanted to. We’ll be OK. It is a long season. I can’t get too bent out of shape over this. It’ll get better.”

How is the back end of the Diamondbacks’ bullpen looking?

Sewald is back in his role, picking up his first home save Wednesday against the Reds. Ryan Thompson has been stellar in his D-backs tenure dating back to last season (1.00 ERA this year). His ERA is 0.87 with Arizona since signing last year.

Justin Martinez has also emerged as a higher-leverage option lately. The 22-year-old has been racking up the punchouts with 16 in 12.2 innings (0.71 ERA).

“We want to be careful with Justin. It’s a young body and a young mind and it’s just my sense when I feel like it’s time to run, he’s gonna run but I want to manage him the best way I can,” Lovullo said. “He is on the right trajectory and I don’t want that to go backwards…. We’re going to enjoy the ride with him. He’s going to tell us when that time is and I don’t want to do it too quick, too soon.”

Arizona’s bullpen dominance to close 2023 relied on its back three firing at the right time to shorten games.

Ginkel has had some restless nights lately but understands the drill. He has gone through the wringer from injuries, options and getting designated for assignment and has emerged as a go-to.

“Things will get better, so I’m not too concerned. I’m just anxious to get back out there,” Ginkel said.

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