Stinson Hopes Struggles are Over

Stinson hopes his last two starts turn him around

BUFFALO, NY - Josh Stinson hoped to use his spot on the 40-man roster as a means of upward mobility. However, a shaky first two months have the right-hander back to focusing on some fundamentals as he hopes to turn around a rather inconsistent start. Stinson spoke with Inside Pitch about the steps he is taking and how he thinks he can right the ship during the summer.

It's been a bizarre month and a half to start the season for Buffalo pitcher Josh Stinson.

After being placed on the Mets' 40-man roster in the winter, Stinson was expected to, at the very least, be on the Buffalo opening day roster. That didn't happen, and the 23-year-old righty was sent to Binghamton to start the season.

Stinson only started two games for the B-Mets before getting the call up to Buffalo where he ended last season. In four starts in 2010, he went 2-2 with a 2.57 ERA and 21 strikeouts, which seemed to have him poised to pitch in Triple-A to start this season.

Likely battling emotions and confusion, Stinson struggled through his first start and surrendered six earned runs in only four innings of work. He bounced back in his next outing – his first at home – going five strong innings for his first win for the Bisons.

In his next three starts, Stinson lost two and didn't factor into the decision of a 6-4 win. The bottom line was that Stinson was struggling and seemed tentative on the mound.

Stinson struggled with command in his first five starts and it showed by how many walks he was giving up. He averaged three walks per outing during that stretch and he just wasn't pitching with confidence.

"Me, [Bisons pitching coach] Ricky [Bones], and Rick Tomlin [Mets pitching instructor] had a big talk [in early May] about just trusting my stuff," Stinson said. "Going out there, I felt like I was trying to do too much my first couple of starts. [I have to] go out there and trust my stuff, establish my fastball command, and work from there."

He did just that on May 12 against Scranton, going 7 2/3 innings with six strikeouts. He didn't allow a single walk for the first time of the season in a Buffalo uniform.

Stinson and Bones discussed a new strategy after walking a season-high four batters in his previous game and failing to strikeout a single batter.

"We talked about just pounding the zone," Stinson said. "I'm a sinkerball guy and I get a lot of groundballs, or try to at least. In order for me to be effective I have to keep the ball down in the zone and have them swing at it. I just went out there and attacked guys."

Bisons manager Tim Teufel expressed how important it is for his pitchers to go deep into games. He thought Stinson maxed out his pitches against the Yankees, and that's what helped him go seven plus innings.

In his next start, the wheels came off again for Stinson. Against Indianapolis on the road, he allowed eight runs in 4 2/3 innings in a 10-1 loss. A trend has developed this season that indicates Stinson struggles away from Coca-Cola Field.

In four starts on the road, Stinson has a robust 9.78 ERA and 11 walks as opposed to only a 3.00 ERA and six walks at home. The trend continued in his most recent start, at home, against Charlotte.

Stinson got the win and struck out four to improve his record to 2-4 on the season. In spite of the mixed results, he still has a lot of confidence in ability. He followed that up with an even better six innings on May 28, in which he gave up just one unearned run on five hits with four more strikeouts.

"I feel great because I'll take 6 1/3 [innings] every time out," Stinson said. "I kept my team in it and gave them a chance to win…Right now I'm feeling pretty good."

The goal for Stinson is finding a way to consistently trust his stuff. He relies on his sinker, but that tends to get him in trouble, according to Teufel.

Teufel was happy to see Stinson bounce back after getting roughed up in Indianapolis.

"Anytime you can bounce back and feel good about yourself, there is hopefully good times to come," Teufel said. "Where he can put things together and really command the bottom of the strike zone like he usually does with his sinker, and pitch off of that. If he can do that we're going to see more good starts out of him."

Stinson noted how important it is to stay focused and avoid getting negative in the midst of struggles.

"This game is always mentally tough," Stinson said. "You just have to stay strong and be positive. I just concentrated real hard on my bullpen days, going out there and repeating my mechanics and then taking that into the game without changing anything…Just trusting my stuff."

The season is a process according to Stinson. He is just building and improving with each start and learning as much as he can in the process.

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