Laurila: Q&A with Indians’ Josh Tomlin on what he learned at Driveline Baseball

From SABR member David Laurila at FanGraphs on February 22, 2019:

When the Milwaukee Brewers inked Josh Tomlin to a minor league deal earlier this month, they acquired more than a 34-year-old right-hander coming off a train wreck of a year. They brought on a pitcher with a new and better understanding of his craft. His career badly in need of a jumpstart, Tomlin trained at Driveline from January 8-17.

Train wreck is a fair description of his 2018 campaign. As always, he threw plenty of strikes — Tomlin’s 1.24 walk rate is the lowest in baseball over the last eight years (min. 800 innings) — but far too many of them got whacked. In 70.1 tumultuous innings with the Cleveland Indians, Tomlin posted a 7.16 FIP and was taken deep 25 times. Cut loose at season’s end, he knew that something needed to change if he had any chance of returning to a big league rotation.

His visit to Driveline could prove to be a panacea for his troubles. Tomlin not only learned how his delivery had gotten out of whack, he discovered that he’d been underutilizing what might be one of his best pitches. As for the analytical data he’s seen in recent seasons, let’s just say that it’s no longer just a bunch of numbers and dots arranged on a chart.

Tomlin talked about what he learned, and what it could mean for his career, prior to throwing a bullpen session yesterday morning at Milwaukee’s spring training facility in Maryvale, Arizona.

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Originally published: February 28, 2019. Last Updated: February 28, 2019.