Michael Plassmeyer was working earlier this season with Sacramento pitching coach Garvin Alston on a mechanical adjustment.
It was taking time in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.
Plassmeyer allowed at least three earned runs in his last seven starts for the River Cats, the Giants’ Triple-A affiliate managed by former IronPigs mentor Dave Brundage, and never pitched more than 5 ⅓ innings in any of those outings.
Since being traded June 8 to the Phillies for catcher Austin Wynns, who was batting .365 in Lehigh Valley, Plassmeyer has seen the fruits of his labor. The 25-year-old left-hander is 4-2 with a 3.06 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and only nine walks in 50 innings across 10 starts.
The St. Louis native was 0-6 with a 7.38 ERA and 1.60 WHIP in 11 games with Sacramento. It is a significant turnaround since posting a 10.33 ERA and 1.186 OPS against in his final seven outings for the River Cats.
“I’ve been trying to get more in line and driving the ball through the plate as opposed to throwing across my body,” Plassmeyer said. “Trying to get everything in line and making it easier for me to work both sides of the plate was huge for sure.”
Plassmeyer struck out a career-high 11 in an Aug. 3 win over the Syracuse Mets and then allowed a run on two hits in a Tuesday victory over the Charlotte Knights.
“[Plassmeyer] has been pretty steady and obviously the last two outings, he’s gone the length that we expect him to go,” IronPigs manager Anthony Contreras said. “Just finding his rhythm is the biggest thing, you know. I think in that two outings ago, he found it pretty quickly and just kind of like rolled through.”
Lehigh Valley pitching coach Cesar Ramos picked up on Plassmeyer’s mechanical flaws and maintained the same dialogue started by Alston.
A change of scenery didn’t hurt, either.
“I’ve definitely used my fastball more here,” Plassmeyer said. “There are bigger parks here. In the PCL, the balls fly. Here you can get away with a little more. Balls that were home runs there are flyouts here.
“I’ve been able to work ahead and not have to be so careful around the corners. I’ve been filling it up and working ahead.”
Opposing hitters are slashing .207/.250/.430/.680 in Plassmeyer’s last six starts. Home runs have been his only hiccup since coming over. He’s allowed 11 with Lehigh Valley after yielding 15 with Sacramento.
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But the 6-foot-2, 200-pounder has minimized the damage in most of his outings since the trade.
“His ability to dot the fastball and using the breaking ball when he wants to and kind of keep guys off balances, you know that’s the name of the game when you’re pitching, and he’s been a good example of what that looks like .”
Plassmeyer was the Mariners’ fourth-round pick out of the University of Missouri in 2018. He was sent to the Rays the following year, reaching Triple-A for the first time.
After not pitching in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic, he was traded in mid-June 2021 to the Giants.
Outfielder Dustin Peterson (hand) was activated before Friday’s game against Charlotte. He was 0 for 4 in Lehigh Valley’s 4-1 loss, its third in a row. Peterson last played July 16 in Charlotte.
Sunday’s 5:35 pm start is the last of the six-game series at Coca-Cola Park.
Morning Call reporter Tom Housenick can be reached at 610-820-6651 or at [email protected]