Pitching Coordinator Rick Waits Talks B-Mets

Waits explains Brad Holt in depth

There is a lot going on with the Binghamton Mets pitchers these days. Top prospects, reconstructions, projects and promotions. The two pitchers gaining the most attention, for various reasons are right-handers Eddie Kunz and Brad Holt. Inside Pitch caught up with Mets pitching coordinator Rick Waits for a quick Q&A to get his thoughts on Kunz, Holt, and a few others.

InsidePitchMagazine.com: Eddie Kunz is attempting to regain his form while pitching out of the starting rotation. What are you opinions about how that is going so far? What have you thought about his performances?

Rick Waits: I think he's getting better each time out and it's showing on the mound. I thought his last start (7 2/3 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 5 K, 2 BB) was a great step in the right direction. He had a swing and miss slider in his last start and it was real exciting. He's keeping guys on the defensive by coming right at hitters which is something he always had the ability to do and now he's doing it and getting better results in his last few starts.

He worked between 89-92 MPH in his last start and had more pitches at 92 than he normally does. He's finding a good groove for that fastball velocity right now. Like so many guys, when you're a starter and go to relieving you usually had two or three miles per hour and when you go from relieving to starting sometimes you're velocity will stay or drop a little. The added innings can make it tough to maintain that higher velocity like when you go one inning. The main thing in his last start was that he had the slider working and he was throwing it for strikes.

Inside Pitch: I attended Brad Holt's start in New Britain and it was a rough one, but there were some positives to take away. A newspaper report came out saying he will be taken out of the rotation...

Waits: No, no, that was a false report. We're not sure where that came from. He's still in the rotation, and on target to start here in Binghamton on Friday night. We saw that report to and weren't quite sure where it came from. He's going to start Friday night and we wanted to do a couple of bullpens with him to give him a couple extra days.

He's out of sync right now, there's no doubt, and we're trying to get him in a groove. He had time off last year with the ankle injury, missed five weeks, and it took a while for him to settle back into a groove. This year, he had the little wrist injury which was a matter of giving him rest and he's rusty. I think he's throwing the ball well, but he's not getting good results. We're working with the fastball, but the curveball is as good as it's ever been and his changeup is probably the best changeup he's had. But again, he's throwing the ball too much in the middle and he's got to get the ball down in the zone with more consistency. That's just going to take some innings.

He had a start earlier this month where he went four innings, his velocity was up 92-94, and he had a good outing. Then his last couple of starts, he started out well then ran into trouble in the middle innings and couldn't get out of it. We're just working on consistency with the delivery to get him back to the guy we know he can be.

Inside Pitch: Holt's secondary stuff looked very good in New Britain, but he was getting beat with the fastball. You mentioned he is out of sync. How does being out of sync relate to the effectiveness of his fastball?

Waits: I think that happens when you have a pitcher who is struggling a little bit with his fastball command especially with getting it down. Most pitchers don't always recognize when they're doing it, but when pitchers lose that fastball command they'll start leaving it up to get it over the plate. If a guy is throwing 94 MPH usually, now the fastball will be 91. That's not the way to do it. The way to do it is to make an adjustment with the delivery, with the timing, and prevent from rushing the pitch. He needs to not let up with the fastball to get it over because then it won't be his best fastball. All pitchers go through that. I didn't see his last start, but it looks like that's where we're at with Holt right now.

Inside Pitch: Eric Niesen came off the disabled list and made his return. Do you have any updates on what's been going on with him?

Waits: He should be ready to go. He may be a little bit rusty, but physically he's 100 percent. We sent him down to Florida to pitch a couple of games so he can face some hitters. He's missed almost 21 days between facing hitters. He threw a couple of bullpens in between there, but he's now ready to go. He threw four innings down in Florida. We're going to keep an eye on him, but I expect him to be close to where he was physically before he went on the disabled list.

Inside Pitch: What guy I missed down in St. Lucie and then unfortunately missed him his first time through the Binghamton rotation is Chris Schwinden. He had a rough start on Thursday, but he's had a lot of success to this point even going back to last year. What do you like about him? He seems to be flying under the radar a bit.

Waits: Basically, of all the starters down in Florida he was the most effective. We can always have a conversation on who is the best prospect or who's got the best fastball, but he was the best pitcher and he deserved to come up. I've always liked this guy because he's got four pitches he can throw for strikes and he knows how to pitch inside. He's a smart pitcher. I think a big difference for him this year is that he's a lot stronger than he was last year. He's in better shape, not to say he was out of shape, but he went through a year in Savannah where he was learning how to get the most out of himself physically. That's something a pitcher is going to experience in his first year and a half. He's got a very good routine and he's very deserving to be up here in Binghamton.

(Schwinden) knows how to stay away from ball three and ball four, and as long as he continues to do that, he'll always have a good chance to have a good game. That's what Schwinden does. Like any pitcher he'll have a night where he gets beat up, but this is a guy who comes out and throws strikes in quality locations, puts the ball in play and knows how to have a good game. He's done that his whole career. He's been going very well ever since he got to Savannah, and even before.

Inside Pitch: There are now six starters in Binghamton. Is the idea to have a six-man rotation or will something be worked out there?

Waits: We've had discussions but we haven't come to any conclusions yet. That is something that will probably come to a conclusion in the next couple of days as Holt goes back on Friday. We've had a conversation about it but we haven't made a decision to come out with officially yet.

Inside Pitch: One last guy I wanted to ask you about was Scott Shaw. Here's a guy who figured out how to pitch effectively in St. Lucie last year but looks like he's really strugging at the next level this year. Have you seen him? What can he do to get himself back on track?

Waits: I have seen him and I think he needs to be more aggressive with his fastball. I don't think there is anything major. His delivery is very clean and he's probably the hardest working guy on the team. He prepares great for hitters. He's going to be backing up Holt on Friday which will give him a chance to get some innings this week, but I do need to see him pitch again.

I think our pitching coach here, Mark Brewer, has done an excellent job because I think the results are there with Kunz and I'm confident they will be there with Holt and Shaw, and especially getting Shaw back in shape.

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