WALK LIKE A JUNG-MANN
BY: RYAN KAUFMAN
The time has finally come for Taylor Jungmann. He will make his MLB debut on Tuesday for the Milwaukee Brewers in Pittsburgh.
After the month of April, the distance between the 2011 first round pick and Miller Park seemed much further. An epic turnaround in May and a solid start in June has Jungmann wearing the navy blue and gold for the first time outside of Spring Training. The key to him making the most of the gift the organization has given him is not giving gifts to opposing hitters.
Due to Jungmann’s throwing motion in which he strides from the left to the right side of the rubber causing his arm to come across his body, scouts have had the long-held belief that he has a hard time commanding his pitches. A lack of command can hurt a pitcher in many ways, but the way in which it hurts Taylor Jungmann the most is walking hitters.
“Walks in the past have been a problem for me,” Jungmann acknowledges. “This year, I’ve cut down on them a little bit.”
In April, he had a walk rate of 5.56, which is a level that sabermetricians and scouts alike would characterize as worse than poor. In May, however, Jungmann Indeed cut down on the free passes to the tune of 3.5 per 9 innings.
While that mark is about average for a starting pitcher, it does show significant improvement. Walks may always be a bugaboo for the 6’6″ right-hander, but this year, he has been able to cut back on hitter’s production in other areas in order to compensate.
In his last three starts, Jungmann lowered his ERA by more than a run and the improvement has been even further pronounced in a more macro sense. His ERA in May was 4.75 as opposed to the 10.26 mark he posted in April. Jungmann is also pitching deeper into games, going into the seventh in his last three starts.
The reason Colorado Springs Sky Sox Manager Rick Sweet is leaving him in longer is that he is getting batters out. Over his last four starts, Jungmann has lowered hitter’s average against him from .300 down to .272 and has struck out five or more hitters in five of his last six starts. This is a stark contrast to his first five starts of the season in which he struck out a handful of hitters only once.
“They’ve been pretty good.” Rick Sweet said of Jungmann’s last few starts after a June 2nd loss to Fresno. “He didn’t pitch badly today; he had good stuff and threw the ball well.”
In that June 2nd start against the top affiliate of the Houston Astros, Jungmann fell to 2-3 after pitching 6 2/3 innings and giving up five runs. Walks did rear their ugly head in that game, as he gave up five.
“They came back a little bit tonight, it happens.” Jungmann says. “It’s something I need to cut down on.”
While Jungmann acknowledges that not walking hitters will be the key to his success at the next level, he points out that it was not a problem that plagued him throughout his last start.
“I thought in the first inning I struggled,” Jungmann admits. “I felt like after that I was much better, without that first inning it would have been a great outing.”
Two of the five walks he gave up came in the first inning. The first batter he walked came around to score and the second forced a runner to third that scored as well. While Jungmann may believe that it is about spreading out the walks, his manager believes it is about cutting them down entirely.
“Can’t walk five hitters,” says Rick Sweet. “We gotta work on that.”
For now, it will not be Rick Sweet and Sky Sox Pitching Coach Fred Dabney working with Taylor Jungmann on that. It will be Craig Counsell and Rick Kranitz working on that.