Mental and physical resets have Kyle Bradish feeling better about his game

When Orioles right-handed pitcher Kyle Bradish returned recently to the team, he had almost become a new pitcher. The results are certainly better than when we had previously seen him in the big leagues.

Before going on the injured list with right shoulder inflammation, Bradish’s ERA ballooned to 7.38. This was the same guy that on May 10 at St. Louis allowed two runs over seven innings with no walks and 11 strikeouts.

But before his IL stint in his last two starts June 13 and 18, he allowed 11 runs and 20 hits over 8 2/3 innings while batters hit .465 against him with an OPS of 1.140 in those two games. Then in his first two starts back active on the roster, at Cincinnati and Texas on the road trip, he gave up three runs and eight hits over 10 innings while batters hit .216/ with a .617 OPS against him.

Big difference. Bradish makes his third start since coming off the IL tonight at home versus Toronto.

Bradish said he made both physical and mental changes during his time away from the Orioles. The mental reset and getting back to the farm was helpful, and so was his work with the O’s pitching coaches on his breaking pitches. They felt the shape of his slider and curveball were becoming too similar, and he needed to fix that.

“More of looking at video and we have things we can look at for how the ball is coming out and spinning,” Bradish told me recently. “And my slider is usually pretty horizontal, but the way I throw gives it depth. So, it was getting kind of more slurvy. It was anywhere from negative 15 horizontal and negative five vertical. So, we wanted to get that close to zero on the vertical.”

While that sounds like it might not be an easy fix, Bradish said it really was.

“Yeah. Once we saw the way I was throwing it we kind of changed my wrist position and that was about it. Little bit of grip and I was just (previously) getting a lit bit more in the front of the ball than usual. So needed to stay behind it.”

Bradish is throwing his four-seam fastball 53 percent of the time this year and using his slider 26 percent, changeup 11 percent and curveball 10 percent.

The slider is a big pitch for Bradish, previously a top-15 O’s prospect who now has too many innings to qualify for such lists. He has a 36 percent whiff rate on the pitch and it was 45 percent when he had that big game against St. Louis. He likes how it looks the last two games.

“Yeah, slider has been really good. Just need to throw it in the zone now,” he said.

The reset, as he put it during his IL stint, sure was beneficial.

“Just going down and being with some of the younger guys that I know that are good friends," he said. "Just taking my mind off of being up here and all that goes with it. Just going down and being able to work on my craft without the pressure of performing up here was very good for my mindset and reminded me of what I’ve done to get to this point."

Then he returned to the Orioles and reunited with the coaches he has really connected with.

“They have been awesome with me," said Bradish. "I’ve talked with (Chris) Holt a lot since I’ve been over here. With him being the pitching coordinator we’ve had a lot of good conversations. And (Darren) Holmes, he has 10 years in the big leagues. So he brings a different aspect to our meetings and breaking down games. He’s been through it."

O's take series opener: The Blue Jays have won or tied their last 13 series against the Orioles. But after Monday's 7-4 victory, the Orioles have a great chance to end that streak.

The Orioles (57-52) hit four homers in winning the series opener and are now 3-2 on the year versus the Blue Jays. It was a nice tone setter and start to a stretch where these teams are meeting six times over 10 games and 15 the rest of the year.

The Orioles are 21-24 versus the American League East, but now 16-13 combined against the Red Sox (5-3), Rays (8-8) and Jays. 

Right-hander Jordan Lyles allowed two runs over 5 2/3 innings, missing his 10th quality start by one out. He is 3-0 with an ERA of 1.53 in his last three starts and 5-1 with a 3.22 ERA over his past eight.

Over the club's last eight games, the starting rotation has pitched to an ERA of 2.42.  

Orioles lineup vs. Blue Jays
This, that and the other

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