After an offseason of change, Cloyd finally feels comfort
Through his first eight appearances of the season, Triple-A Columbus starting pitcher Tyler Cloyd struggled to a 1-3 record with a 6.38 ERA. He led the league with eight home runs given up and opponents were hitting .330 off of him.
The poor performance came in the wake of Indians picking Cloyd up on outright waivers from the Phillies organization last September. But he had trouble adapting to the change in pitching philosophies between the two organizations when the year started.
“Obviously the philosophies here with Cleveland are a little bit different than what I experienced with Philly,” Cloyd explained. “We tried to implement it in spring training and it’s just been a work in progress since. Every bullpen we kept (working at) it. It never clicked in games. Obviously, you want to try to take it out into games, but at the same time, you want to compete and give your team a chance to win. It just wasn’t getting there.”
Then, Cloyd made a bullpen appearance for the Clippers at Syracuse on May 20. That appearance turned his whole season around.
Cloyd was used out of the bullpen because the Indians had just optioned right-hander Danny Salazar from Clevelan. Salazar made the start for the Clippers that day and lasted only 2.2 innings. Because the outing was on Cloyd’s turn in the rotation, the Clippers inserted him into the game in the fourth inning and he proceeded to shut out Syracuse over the final five innings of the game. The outing lowered his ERA to 5.70.
Since then, Cloyd has thrown six quality starts out of 12 overall starts. He has pitched at least six innings in all but two of his starts and compiled a record of 7-2 with a 3.26 ERA.
So, what happened at Syracuse?
“To be honest with you, I wish I could tell you what it was, but it just finally clicked,” Cloyd said. “I went out in Syracuse and I threw the first two innings. I come in between every inning and (Tony Arnold) and I talk. He tells me what he sees and I tell him what I feel and we try to match it up. In that game, everything finally started clicking. I started feeling it when I wasn’t doing it and that was something early in the year that I wasn’t able to feel. (Early in the year) I felt that I was doing exactly the same thing. I felt like I was doing it, but I wasn’t. It just clicked and I started feeling it.”
For Cloyd, the problem was all about mechanics and the ability to feel in his body when he was not replicating his delivery.
“(It’s being able) to feel it in your body,” Cloyd explained. “With every single pitch, feeling it and being able to correct it when you don’t do it right. I think that’s the biggest thing that I’m able to do now is that I feel it when I don’t do it and I feel it when something is wrong or I make one bad pitch. I’m able to correct it and get back on track.”
He says that it’s something that is a work in progress.
“I’m not saying I’m anywhere where I need to be now,” Cloyd said. “Obviously I still need to work on stuff and will the rest of my career. But it’s slowly becoming more and more the way I’m pitching. It’s becoming normal to me.”
Since the Syracuse appearance, he’s been able to tell when his mechanics aren’t right, which is half the battle.
“Ever since then, it’s all about just staying back and getting on top and getting through the ball,” Cloyd said. “Obviously, it’s worked.”
Cloyd started at Louisville last Wednesday on short rest, but still managed to go six innings on 91 pitches. He is scheduled to start on Wednesday against Louisville at Huntington Park.
Michael Rich is a senior majoring in Communications at The Ohio State University.