Yesterday, in the wake of the Yovani Gallardo trade, I attempted to convince you all to buy into Jimmy Nelson for 2015. Earlier today, via Twitter, I had an opportunity to talk with Jimmy about the trade, the collapse of last year, and the upcoming 2015 season.
Kyle: Where were when you heard about Yo? What was your knee-jerk reaction?
Jimmy: I was at my apartment (in Texas). I was happy for him. He, along with the other guys, have helped me so much during the last year and a half. Watching the work that he and the other starters put in is a good example of how you should go about things on and off the field. It’s tough to see him go, but we know he will be successful wherever he goes.
K: All indications are that they’re going with you for the open rotation slot. Have you talked to Doug (Melvin) or Ron (Roenicke) since the deal? Does that kind of belief from the front office help your confidence?
J: Yeah, it’s nice to know that they have confidence in our rotation as we all have confidence in ourselves, also. I think we have a good staff and am looking forward to the season. I haven’t talked to them, but I’ll see them this weekend at the Brewers On Deck.
K: How heavy of workouts do you do in the offseason?
J: I’ve been out here in the Woodlands (baseball academy in Houston) since the first week of November. It’s the fourth year I’ve been training out here, and I love it. I’ve gotten better each season from the training I do here, and the offseason training is one thing I love about this job and take pride in.
K: What things are you specifically working on?
J: Everyone here does their running, throwing, lifting, bullpens, yoga, and we even swim some days. We’ve been doing everything to gain strength and stamina, but specifically I’m working on refining my mechanics and consistency of my delivery, something I work on every offseason.
K: Do you look at sabermetrics at all?
J: I knew I had a lot of bad luck and I’ve always been a ground ball guy so (my season last year) could have gone either way, but I never looked at the in depth numbers until you wrote about it. I do understand what it all means.
K: It’s like once you got called up, everyone forgot everything you ever did in the minors. That has to be frustrating.
J: Yeah it can be, but I’ve also got to get it done up here (in the Major Leagues), which I will. I’ve had to make an adjustment at every level, and I’ve been able to do that or I wouldn’t have gotten nearly this far.
K: There has to be an adjustment period, getting it all figured out. It was unfair that people assumed that you would come up and put up a 1.50 ERA.
J: Definitely. The encouraging thing is that my past struggle has been with walks, and this time it was with hits. That’s much easier to deal with than walks.
I throw two different fastballs, slider, and changeup. I just happened not to throw the change a lot when I got to the big leagues this year. I was throwing it 10+ times a game in the minors and I’m confident in it. I just got away from it when I got to the big leagues, and I realize now that a part of the struggle was getting away from my game plan.
K: So you’re obviously planning on featuring the changeup more next season?
J: Yes. I also may or may not be working on a fourth pitch, also.
K: Ooh, that’s a scoop!
J: Not trying to really reveal anything yet but it’s something I’m looking forward to using and refining to get it game ready over the next couple of months.
K: Was there a specific adjustment you made to cut down on the free passes?
J: Just a lot more consistent with my delivery. Attacked hitters more and cut the plate in half instead of trying to paint the corners all the time.
K: Would you rather be a starter or reliever?
J: A starter. I’ve always been a starter and I like being able to have a routine. But now since I’ve done both, they both have their pros and cons. Being in the bullpen is fun because you have to be locked into mentally to every game, but at the same time you have to change your routine because you never know when you may pitch. As a starter, you put in a lot of work between starts and let it all out on the fifth day, then start the process all over again. It’s really two completely different things physically and mentally.
K: How did you react to the way last season ended? What do you think the keys will be to making the playoffs this year?
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J: It was really tough, for all of us. All we can really do is put it behind us and learn from it, then take that into this coming season. Struggles like that will make us a better team coming into this season.
K: What are your personal keys to success this year, things you’re trying to focus on?
J: I’m just trying to stay focused on the things I do every offseason. Refining everything and doing what I can to give us a chance to win when I go out there. Learning from last year and not making the same mistakes, just making the necessary adjustments to keep improving.
K: Want to make any predictions for 2015, like Anthony Rizzo did?
J: Ha, I’m not going to do any of that, but we do have a good team. We showed that last year, and this year we will learn from that and finish strong.
K: Awesome, I’ve got a great feeling about this year.
J: Yeah, we do too.
K: Thank you so much for opening up, man. You’re a class act.
J: No problem, anytime. Thank you!
You can follow Jimmy Nelson on Twitter at @Jimmy_J_Nelson. You can follow me at @brewerfan28, and make sure to follow RtB at @reviewngthebrew!