KANSAS CITY -- As a rookie in 2011, left-handed reliever Tim Collins had a good year, except that he gave up too many bases on balls -- 48 in 67 innings. This year, pitching coach Dave Eiland changed Collins' mechanics and so far he has just 25 walks in 58 innings.
An impressive by-product are his 77 strikeouts, a single-season high for a left-handed Royals reliever.
"The strikeouts are a result of being more consistent and throwing more strikes," Collins said. "I think the problem last year was not throwing enough strikes, and obviously I couldn't throw my offspeed. For me to get strikeouts, I've got to throw my offspeed for strikes and be able to get those guys to chase my offspeed in the count that I want them to. So coming into this year, the No.1 goal for me was to command my fastball."
The solution was to square up Collins more on the pitching rubber and get him on a downhill plane with his pitches.
"Not drastic changes, but for me they were a big key in helping me attain that goal," he said.
Collins was at his best in the eighth inning of Tuesday night's 5-0 victory over the A's, striking out the side on 11 pitches, including 10 strikes.
"Last year, I couldn't really set guys up. I was falling behind so much that I had to throw fastballs in fastball counts and when you do that, you get hit a lot and if you're not throwing strikes, you walk a lot of guys so that was the result last year," Collins said. "Being able to command the fastball and getting strike one this year is what's helping me to get ahead and be able to get to my breaking stuff early in counts."