MILWAUKEE -- Solving Chris Volstad’s habit of running into one bad inning per start will apparently start with fixing his slider, but isn’t limited to just that.
It’s been uncanny how one bad inning has upended most of Volstad’s starts this season and on Saturday against the Milwaukee Brewers, that inning came in the sixth. Edwin Maysonet gave the Brewers four of their five runs in the inning on a grand slam.
“The slider got him in trouble again,” manager Dale Sveum said. “That thing is something that we have to work on because it’s a pitch he needs but it’s getting hit too often and too hard. He was in a situation where he needed a ground ball and couldn’t get out of it and close that thing down again. It just got out of hand again.”
The slider might have started his problems, but the grand slam came on a fastball. A slider led to Jonathan Lucroy’s leadoff double and a changeup yielded a double from Corey Hart. Maysonet’s slam was his first home run of the season and second in his career.
“That’s the way it’s been for every game,” Volstad said. “I’ve done so well except for one inning. It’s hard to pinpoint the difference. I just have to keep working.”
Sveum did not say he is ready to remove Volstad from the rotation just yet, but for the first time Saturday he admitted that day could be coming. The tall right-hander fell to 0-5 with a 6.92 ERA.
“Yeah, you’re going to consider it,” Sveum said. “There are options and there’s things you can try and other people you can try. When that time comes we don’t know, but we’re obviously all frustrated with the starts and the innings, the five shutout innings and the one big inning. We’re all frustrated with that and trying to get a grip on it. After six or seven starts in we can’t get a grip on it.”
Volstad will likely have a busy week with pitching coach Chris Bosio with some changes expected on the slider.
“Well you work on it, come up with a different grip or something,” Sveum said. “Or use the curveball more, or more changeups to right-handed hitters or something. The slider, when it’s a strike, it’s hit, and when it’s a ball it doesn’t get swung and missed at.”
Volstad is as frustrated as anybody at the poor start. It’s not how he envisioned the beginning to his tenure on a new team and his voice started to crack when talking about it.
“It’s been really hard … frustrating,” Volstad said, pausing to compose himself. “I’m working my (tail)off and not really having a lot to show for it.”