Talkin’ Pitching With Tommy Phelps

I had the chance to sit down with Thunder pitching coach Tommy Phelps before Saturday’s game and ask him his thoughts about Dellin Betances, Vidal Nuno and David Phelps…

“(Betances improvements since end of ’10) He’s getting better when he’s getting ahead in the count, because when he usually gets to two strikes, he tends to really overthrow.  That’s when he gets a little erratic and gets back late in the count, gets the count full, gets a few foul balls and then ends up walking the guy.  With guys in scoring position, I think he’ll try to do too much at times.  I think he’s learning to control his aggression and control his delivery in that sense, and he’s been able to execute a little better when he’s ahead in the count as opposed to trying to overpower it.”

“(Betances bullpen delivery repetition compared to game delivery repetition) That’s the same concept of what I was talking about with two strikes and runners in scoring position.  In your bullpens, you’re under control and there’s no adrenalin, no fans, none of that.  No, ‘Hey, this counts.’  You’re just working on your feel and executing your pitches.  He’s trying to get that feeling from the bullpen and take it out into the game, where he stays under control and he can have that consistent release point.”

“(Betances delivery repetition issues in relation to size) It depends on the individual.  For him, that’s his challenge, because he’s got three plus pitches.  It’s just a matter of being able to stay in control and repeat his release point, repeat his delivery.”

“(On if it’s good for him to be back here) I think sometimes a change of scenery helps and gets you back on track, and then you go back to where you were.  You sort of a refreshed start.  You sort of hit a rut and you feel like you’re in such a big hole and you’re trying to do so much to get out of it right away, as opposed to re-focusing and just executing one pitch at a time.”

“(On if Betances has been adjusting his stride to the plate at all) That’s part of him overthrowing.  I think he does naturally shorten up just a little bit when he does that and he’s able to get out front and get over the ball.”

“(Betances on right track?) Oh, yeah.  His last start, on a couple occasions he overthrew, but even during that five-run inning, he didn’t panic and he stayed under control.  He hung a pitch 0-2 to Arcia for the hit, he hit a guy with a curveball that backed up to the righthander, and his walk was where two pitches looked pretty good and could have been strikes.  That inning could have been a totally different inning, and those innings can happen to anybody.  He stayed under control that whole time, whereas before he’d be going quicker, quicker, quicker.  He wouldn’t slow the game down.  And that’s what I saw from last game, he really stayed under control and pitched.  He went out the next inning and had a good one and finished his outing pretty strong.”

“(Any different instructions with Phelps on Monday) He’s just going to do a regular start, and his pitches should be around 90, something like that.  It’s just getting his work in and his pitch count up.  I know Triple-A’s off on his day, so he’s down here to work.  After that, I don’t know where he’s at.”

“(On unique scenario of having both Phelps and Betances on roster) I think Phelpsy might be a little different situation because he came off a start in Tampa and he had eight punchouts and I think he only gave up one hit or something in the big leagues.  I think he’s aware of his situation, and Dellin is too.  He’s back and he’s working and he’s getting prepared every day.  And that’s part of them being professional too, is being able to say, ‘Hey, this is where I’m at and this what I’ve got to do to get back.'”

“(On Nuno’s success) He can pitch.  He’s got enough fastball where guys have to respect it, and he pitches in and out.  He’s got all his secondary pitches and he spins the ball really well and it keeps guys off balance.  It’s tough, especially with younger hitters that are a little more aggressive, they start to get after everything and he can really exploit that.  It would be nice if he keeps having success here and he goes up and faces some older, more experience guys and figures out how to get them out.  I think he’s capable of doing it.  He’s got a great, aggressive persona out there and he’s fun to watch when he goes out there.  He works fast, his fielders back there are ready to make some plays.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

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2 Responses to “Talkin’ Pitching With Tommy Phelps”

  1. Charleston outlasts Savannah in 13 innings | River Avenue Blues Says:

    [...] sure you check out Mike Ashmore’s talk with Double-A Trenton pitching coach Tommy Phelps, who spoke about RHP Dellin Betances, RHP David [...]

  2. kinglear Says:

    Amazing interview. Thank you so much, Mike!

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