After Mechanical Changes Mark Lowe Looks To Resume His Career
In just the last two seasons, the fans of the Cleveland Indians have been able to witness how mechanical changes for a pitcher can pay big dividends.
In 2012, the Tribe brought over Esmil Rogers and moved his positioning on the rubber slightly. He immediately showed great improvement. Last year, we witnessed the rebirth of Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir, each of who had battled their mechanics to different degrees.
Friday, the Indians signed reliever Mark Lowe to a minor league deal in hopes of cashing in on the mechanical changes that he has made, as chronicled by MLB.com’s beat writer Bill Chastain in his article titled Reliever Lowe puts mechanical issues in past.
Lowe tells Chastain:
“In 2011, I averaged 96 mph on my fastball. In 2012, I went down to 93. And it was all mechanical. I just couldn’t get out of it. I feel like that drill just triggered something. For some reason I couldn’t throw away. I couldn’t get it off me. For two years, I struggled with it.”
Even after talking to his then pitching coach Mike Maddux of the Texas Rangers he said he just couldn’t put the changes into his delivery and find his power.
Eventually, mechanical issues turned into psychological issues resulting in a lack of confidence. He was released by the Rangers after the 2012 season. Lowe appeared in 36 games and posted an 0-2 record with a 3.43 ERA with a low strikeout rate of 6.4 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9.
He signed with the Los Angeles Angels and appeared in 11 games, posting a 1-0 record with a 9.26 ERA in 11 appearances. Lowe was released on June 6th and signed with the Nationals, where he finished the season with their Triple-A Syracuse team.
While in Syracuse, Lowe talked to his teammates about what he was going through and believes that the dialogue helped him find it again. He doesn’t believe that Maddux gave him bad advice, but he just didn’t hear him:
“One small thought process. It could mean the same thing, but given to you in the wrong words, could make you do something completely different.”
His decision on where to sign this spring came down to the Cleveland Indians and the Tampa Bay Rays, “We took a look at every team, every situation before we signed, and this was the best fit and Cleveland was another one,” Lowe said. “Those were the two teams that pushed the hardest for me.”
Lowe was very effective this spring for the Rays working 10.1 innings and allowing only an earned run while striking out 12 and walking only one. But, Lowe may have been caught up in the options game as both lefty Cesar Ramos and righty Josh Leuke are out of options. The Rays had hoped to bring Lowe back in the fold and put him in Triple-A Durham but he’d probably have to wait for his opportunity as Joe Maddon uses a more traditional seven man bullpen and Juan Carlos Oviedo will be close to returning early in the year.