Butler seeing results from changes to delivery

Butler seeing results from changes to delivery

DENVER -- At the end of his last stint with the Rockies, right-hander Eddie Butler struggled to get batters out. But after working with Triple-A Albuquerque pitching coach Darryl Scott, he believes he has identified and fixed the problem.

The two looked at TrackMan data, which uses cameras to track velocity, spin rate and extension on pitches, and it showed that Butler, who is 6-foot-2, was only getting 5 feet, 7 inches of extension on his release.

Scott found that Butler's back leg was collapsing too much, which didn't allow him to stay tall and get a good downward plane on the release.

That likely contributed to his 11.22 ERA over his last five outings for the Rockies before his demotion in late June.

"It causes me to not be able to get extension out front," Butler said. "I wasn't staying on top of the ball, I wasn't driving the fastball through the zone and my offspeed kind of hung up there. That's been the difference: the late life on my fastball and late life on my offspeed have completely turned around where everything was kind of flat and I was getting under it."

Now, Butler gets around 6 feet of extension on his release, which is significant from the batter's point of view.

"You don't think about 5 inches being much, but with the reaction time, it changes a lot," Butler said. "Say I'm throwing 95 [mph]; if I'm throwing it with 5-foot-7 extension, it looks like 90. I was throwing 93 to 95, and guys were turning on it like it was 88. I was just puzzled, and I couldn't figure it out."

Even though the changes are a work in progress, the results are showing. In his last seven starts for Albuquerque, he owned a 2.58 ERA with a 1.01 WHIP.

"I'm still trying to make it muscle memory," Butler said. "I still have a tendency every once in a while to do it, but the thing is now I feel it, and I know when I do it. The next pitch I can make the correction, whereas before it was kind of the other way around. I'd throw two or three good ones and not know what I was doing."

Worth noting

• Center fielder Charlie Blackmon, out for five games entering Wednesday, took swings against Jason Motte in the right-hander's 25-pitch simulated game Wednesday. Weiss expects Blackmon back in days and Motte back shortly thereafter. Motte was pain-free, but with Minor League seasons over, he'll have to continue with live batting practices instead of rehab games.

"That's the closest we can get to an actual game," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "It's a big leap from the simulated game to an actual game, but that's what we've got to deal with at this time of the year."

• First baseman Mark Reynolds has not played since Friday because he has been with his wife, who gave birth Tuesday to their third child, Declan James.

Ben Weinrib is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.