Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Crick's Spring Work Pays Off

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Crick's Spring Work Pays Off

Article excerpt

Reliever Kyle Crick likely made a poor first impression on any Pirates fans watching spring training.

Crick, the only major leaguer acquired in the Andrew McCutchen trade, allowed seven runs on 13 hits in 11 innings in the spring.

But the right-hander said he owes some of the success he's had in the regular season to adjustments made in Bradenton, Fla., most notably developing a two-seam fastball he almost never used while he was with the San Francisco Giants.

"It was something I was working on. Might've been a reason my velocity was down in spring, because I was really trying to perfect it," Crick said.

Crick's newfound pitch selection and a mechanical change for closer Felipe Vazquez have fueled a stretch of dominance for the back of the Pirates bullpen. Entering Tuesday, the duo hasn't allowed a run since June 15, combining for 22? shutout innings, 36 strikeouts and five walks.

For games such as Tuesday's against the Washington Nationals, when Vazquez is unavailable after throwing three consecutive days, Crick is one of manager Clint Hurdle's top choices to pitch the ninth inning.

When Crick was with the Giants bullpen in 2017, more than 70 percent of his pitches were four-seam fastballs or cutters. He threw just 21 two-seamers all season.

This season, he has ditched the cutter, relied on about 56 percent four-seamers and supplemented it with a much heavier dose of sliders and almost 19 percent two-seamers. The change has paid off, with Crick owning a 2.18 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 33 innings pitched.

"The more little weapons I can add, the more effective I'll be," Crick said. …

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