Lorenzen mixing gas with refined approach

Lorenzen mixing gas with refined approach

WASHINGTON -- Amid a rough night for the Reds during Thursday's 13-4 loss to the Nationals was a bright spot in pitcher Michael Lorenzen and his three innings of scoreless relief. In his third game back from the disabled list, Lorenzen logged the longest relief stint of his brief career.

Lorenzen allowed one hit and struck out three after entering in the fifth inning.

"I'm feeling great. I'm feeling like I'm exactly where I belong when I'm out there on the mound," Lorenzen said on Friday. "I went through those two games of feeling great, and one swing that just kind of kills you. I didn't let that get me down whatsoever. I just kept believing in my stuff. I kept going through the old saying that, 'Adversity breaks some people and other people it allows them to break records.' I kept saying that to myself."

Lorenzen, 24, had been out since early March with a right elbow sprain, followed by a bout of mononucleosis. Since returning, he has shown some velocity on his four-seam fastball, averaging 97.4 mph according to PITCHf/x. It's a small sample, but it's up over three mph from last season, and he's touched 99 mph a few times. His two-seam fastball is averaging 96.9 mph, up from 94.2 in 2015.

During the offseason, Lorenzen maintained a heavy cardio and weightlifting program. He did not make any mechanical adjustments with his pitching, however.

"I think it's a product of the physical ability that I have and the mindset that I've changed," said Lorenzen, who has seven strikeouts and no walks in six innings. "At the end of the year last year, my velo was up, too. That was just a mental adjustment, not anything physical. The work ethic allows me to sustain that type of velocity for a certain amount of time, however long they need me to."

Lorenzen is aware that he can't just rely on the gas. In his season debut on June 24 vs. the Padres, Melvin Upton Jr. hit a 98-mph pitch for a two-run homer. And on Monday, Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta connected on a 99-mph fastball for a homer. On Thursday, Lorenzen still topped out at 98 mph, but he also threw more sliders and curveballs to keep hitters from sitting on his fastball.

"It just comes from repetition of seeing how hitters react to certain stuff," Lorenzen said. "Me and Tucker Barnhart were able to pick up on things pretty quickly -- how they react to my sinker, to my cutter, curveball and four-seam fastball. That's just going to take reps. The hitters will tell you what you need to do. I was able to learn that the first three innings I pitched, and apply it to the last three innings I just pitched."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.