Small move pays off big for Manship

Small move pays off big for Manship

CHICAGO -- A simple move on the mound has made a world of difference for right-handed reliever Jeff Manship. After years of working from the first-base side of the rubber, Manship shifted two feet to his right to throw from the third-base side this season.

Last offseason, Manship worked with Skip Johnson, an assistant coach for the University of Texas, who suggested the move. After posting a 7.21 ERA from 2011 to 2014 (including a 6.65 ERA in 20 games for the Phillies last season), Manship decided to give it a shot.

"I had nothing to lose," Manship, 30, said. "It hadn't really gone all that well for me in the past. I was like, 'All right. I'm all ears.'"

So far the adjustment has paid great dividends both for Manship and the Indians. Helped by the slight adjustment, Manship has looked like a new pitcher. He is in the middle of his best Major League season and, following an early-season stint at Triple-A Columbus, is now being looked at as an option for the 2016 bullpen.

"It's really helped me get more extension on my pitches," he said. "It's really helped out my slider. It's changed the angle of how the pitches appear to the hitters. [I'm] attacking the zone, too, and being fearless out there. Whoever it is, just go right after them."

"He's pitched great, and there's no reason to think he can't help us moving forward," manager Terry Francona said. "I mean, he's got out lefties and righties. His velocity has ticked up a little bit out of the bullpen. He's got a lot of deception, and his breaking ball is very good. You've got to find guys [like that]. Fortunately, we did."

Cleveland signed Manship to a Minor League contract last offseason and sent him to Triple-A for the first two-plus months of this season. Through 23 appearances since having his contract purchased by the big league club on June 18, he has a 1.27 ERA, 0.78 WHIP and .165 opponents' average in 28 1/3 innings, striking out 23 and walking six along the way.

He has pitched for four organizations in the past four years and had a 6.46 career ERA in 72 Major League games before this season.

"It's been really big," he said of his success this season. "Every year it seems like I'm playing year to year and trying to earn my spot next year. I'd definitely love to be back here next year. I really enjoy this team and the coaches and the front office. It's been important for me to throw well in this environment on a team I really like. Hopefully, I can carry this into the end of the season and can be back here next year."

Manship, who will be arbitration-eligible this offseason, is under contractual control through 2018.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.