Even in defeat, Jungmann impresses Counsell

Right-hander fans five over five innings in second MLB start on Sunday

Even in defeat, Jungmann impresses Counsell

MILWAUKEE -- Taylor Jungmann took the mound at Miller Park for the first time on Sunday, and while every one of his five innings was a grind in a 4-0 loss to Max Scherzer and the Nationals, the rookie right-hander earned postgame praise.

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"I was really proud of Taylor," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "I thought he had to fight for everything he got and he kept us in the game. I think it's one of those starts where you'll look back on it and you'll say, 'I did a pretty good job today. I survived and I gave my team a shot.'"

Jungmann needed 105 pitches to get through five innings, and was charged with two earned runs on seven hits, two walks and two wild pitches. He struck out five, and found himself on the losing end of Scherzer's dominant, one-hit shutout.

It marked Brewers fans' first in-person look at the Brewers' first of two first-round picks in the 2011 Draft. It was also their first glimpse of Jungmann's unconventional, cross-body delivery, evidenced by spike marks on the extreme third-base side of the mound where Jungmann planted on each pitch.

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Five days earlier, he confounded the Pirates for seven innings, allowing only one run on three hits. Things were tougher from the start against the Nationals; a 26-pitch first inning would have been more problematic for Jungmann had Counsell not been able to successfully challenge a pair of safe calls on the bases. When the Brewers won those challenges, Jungmann had his first two outs of the game.

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"If replay isn't in the game right there, it's a long inning," Jungmann said. "It was huge for me to get those two outs. They were close plays, you can't really fault the umpire for calling it the way they did. They were really close plays, but luckily there was replay."

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Of the Nationals, he said, "No at-bat was easy. They made me work for every out. It was rough. It was good to get out of there only giving up two runs, but I put the bullpen in a bad situation by only going five."

Jungmann's next start will be on Friday against the Rockies at Coors Field, where he will need his signature sinker. That pitch is Jungmann's best, and its effectiveness is aided by his unique delivery.

"He steps across his body pretty good. I think it creates some deception," Counsell said. "It's a different look for a hitter, and hitters don't like seeing something different."

Counsell pointed to the Angels' Jered Weaver as an example of a pitcher who has had success throwing across his body. Often, such a delivery is cause for injury concerns, but the Brewers opted to mostly leave Jungmann's mechanics alone as he worked through the Minor League system.

"That's the player development question -- do you change people or let them do what they are having success with?" Counsell said. "What is the injury risk? Taylor has never had any injury things. I don't think it is a concern. You let him do it the way he's been doing it his whole life."

It wasn't easy against Washington, but Counsell nevertheless counted the outing as a positive step in Jungmann's development.

"The point is, he had a tough day, but kept us in the game, and that's a success," Counsell said.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.