Throwing a scoreless fourth thru sixth innings today, Austin Gomber picked up the win in the St. Louis Cardinals 2-1 victory over Washington this afternoon.
The lefty escaped damage in the 4th after walking the bases loaded and was aided by a key relay from Dexter Fowler to Breyvic Valera to Yadier Molina to throw out Adrian Sanchez an inning later.
A self-assessment of the performance would surely see the positive and the areas to continue to work on. But just in case there was anything being overlooked, Gomber can count on Dakota Hudson. And vice versa.
The relationship and dialogue goes back to last year for the pair of pitching prospects, who were teammates in Springfield (AA).
“We were throwing partners all year so we kind of understand what each of us is trying to do,” said Gomber. “I know when it doesn’t look right playing catch with him and he knows when it doesn’t look right for me. There’s that open line of communication for us and then you throw Waino in–which is like a dictionary of information for us.”
“It’s awesome,” agreed Hudson. “I feel like we have the comfort level of ‘hey, this what you usually do’ and we both feel like it’s open game for us to talk and to work together. Neither one of us is going to take anything personally but we’re also help each other kind of stay in check.”
Seeking for consistency with his curveball, Hudson worked on the pitch last season and sought the advice of his teammate. This spring, Adam Wainwright was brought into the conversation.
“I kind of mentioned to him, if you’re looking for a curveball, Wainwright’s not a bad guy to ask,” said Gomber. “We were just talking about his grips and what he tries to get to with his release point and feel wise. Just trying to implement that into our games. For us, being young guys, we can always learn. When you got a guy like that, you might as well take advantage.”
“Gomber and Waino both have really good breaking balls, so I’m just trying to pick both their brains,” said Hudson. “Last year, I had more opportunity to talk with Gomber but it’s just interesting to see what Waino had to say about his breaking ball.”
On more than one occasion this spring, the trio could be seen behind the mounds after a bullpen session engaged in conversation. Sometimes they were animated with a simulated delivery or holding the ball out to discuss their grips. And it wasn’t uncommon for others to get involved in the conversation as well.
“With certain guys it’s technique and certain guys, it’s mindset,” said Wainwright. “Certain guys it’s as simple as what is your line of sight? What are you thinking before you throw it? And some guys it’s more of a technical thing like alright, where is your arm in that part of the swing? It needs to be here and it’s actually there, so let’s work on getting that.”
So as far as the curveball, what did Hudson takeaway from Wainwright?
“Mostly just finger pressure,” shared Dakota. “What you do with not just your middle finger, but the pressure you put from your corner finger and where you put the emphasis on the ball,” explained Hudson.
“It’s fun to get to know them,” continued Wainwright. “It’s fun to watch and really pay attention and if they offer something, then I want to do my part.”
And whether it’s a fellow right-hander like Hudson or a lefty such as Gomber, the advice can still be applied.
“For me, the grips translate either way,” said Gomber. “We throw from different arm slots, so For me, it’s more of just like what he’s trying to accomplish and then trying to figure out how I can accomplish that, but I have to go a different way to get there. But for Dakota, they’re pretty similar arm slot wise so I think that’s something pretty good for Dakota. We’re working on it.”
“As far as grips go, I don’t necessarily change my grip. I just try to see what he emphasizes. The grip isn’t the important thing. It’s the release and stuff like that. And what he’s feeling. He’s been so consistent with that pitch and that’s something I’ve been trying to work on is throwing it for a strike more than just trying to strike people out with it.”
Gomber ended his outing today with a strikeout, which also marked his first Grapefruit League win in 10 appearances over the last three years. Arguably the top left-handed starter in the St. Louis organization, Gomber isn’t relying too heavily on that to advance him to the big leagues.
“They don’t necessarily care what arm you throw with,” he said. “They just want to put the best 25 guys on the roster. So for me, I’m just trying to prove I’m one of those 25 guys whether it’s in the bullpen or starting.”
CARDS RENEW PHAM’S CONTRACT
–While the St. Louis Cardinals announced they had agreed to contracts with 24 of their pre-arbitration eligible players for the upcoming season, one name was separated from that group–Tommy Pham. The verbage in the press release read differently for the centerfielder. His contract was renewed.
The difference in language is noteworthy as that means the Cardinals and Pham were unable to come to an agreement on what his salary would be for 2018, so the team–as is their right, renewed the contract.
All MLB teams can choose to do so as long as the minimum salary requirements are met, as per the collective bargaining agreement. The Cardinals have an internal formula they apply to determine the various salaries for each player which are usually agreed to and then signed. The players don’t actually have any leverage, but it is still a customary exercise.
Pham later told media in Spring Training that a two-year deal may have been suggested, but instead he was going to bet on himself for this season. Pham will become arbitration eligible after 2018.
photo credit: Brian Stull/STLBaseballWeekly.com