Nationals adjust Lehman’s mechanics in effort to break slump

Scottsdale Scorpions reliever Patrick Lehman has lost three straight in the Arizona Fall League and pitching coach Paul Menhart believes he’s found out what has been going wrong.

Lehman got through his first two AFL appearances with the Scorpions unscathed. However, over the last four outings, the George Washington product has allowed 11 runs,10 of them earned, on 12 hits in 6 1/3 innings.

Menhart, the pitching coach for the Single-A Potomac Nationals, thinks a mechanical issue in Lehman’s delivery is to blame for the right-hander’s recent struggles.

“We pinpointed a small mechanical deficiency,” said Menhart, who coached Lehman in 2010 and 2011 at Potomac. “We are here to fix it. That is why he is here.”

Sometimes when a pitcher has such a nice, fluid delivery and is not throwing hard, he has a tendency to want to throw harder when things are not going well. Menhart said Lehman’s stuff is so good he doesn’t need to tinker with velocity, especially with his off-speed pitches.

“Lehman has a plus-plus changeup,” Menhart said. “He doesn’t have to make it nastier than it already is. Lehman can handle this adjustment. He is a very bright kid and he has good body awareness. Sometimes, he tries too hard to be too good (around the plate).”

Lehman worked through adversity early last season when he endured elbow tightness, and he fought through that issue. This time, it is an adjustment in his mechanics that Lehman must fix, Menhart said.

“We are trying to iron this out,” Menhart said. “I think Patrick will be fine. He has battled (obstacles) in the past. This adjustment will not hinder his development. He still wants to show well and pitch well (against AFL competition). I anticipate his next outings to be much improved.”

Front page photograph courtesy of GW Athletics Communications

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