Cotham Making The Adjustment

Cotham has a 2.25 ERA in his last four starts

After moving up to Tampa in late May, Caleb Cotham struggled early on. However, he now has four consecutive quality starts and things are looking better for the young right-hander from Tennessee. Cotham and his coaches agree that consistency is the key to his success.

Caleb Cotham knows that sometimes the difference between a good start and a bad start can be one or two pitches.

"In the starts where I've given up some runs, it's been not making a pitch and letting the inning get too big," Cotham said. "I think if I make one or two pitches early in those spots, I minimize the damage and I didn't do that in those starts and that's the difference. The other starts, two guys on, you make a pitch to get out of it and that sets the tone for the outing."

Cotham throws a fastball in the 90-94 range, a changeup in the mid 80's, a hard slider in the mid 80's, and has been working with coaches on a newly developed curveball in the upper 70's.

"I actually threw it a few times my last start," Cotham said. "But I've been working on it for about a month now."

Cotham threw the curveball in college but didn't bring it with him to the minor leagues until now.

"Three out of the four curveballs Caleb threw were good," pitching coach Jeff Ware said. "The location could be a little better, but rotation and depth we like.

"He threw it in college and he's been able to pick it up really quickly which is a good sign that he's got something there. It gives him something to change speeds. His curve is a bit slower than the change and slider, so he has four pitches at roughly four different speeds."

Cothem put up great numbers in Charleston for the beginning of this year with Charleston, but struggled early on with Tampa.

"It's obviously a higher level, so the better hitters I've faced in Charleston are starting to show up in this league," Cotham said. "I try not to do anything different, just make a quality pitch."

For Cotham, currently on the disabled list as more of a paper move, it's all about preparing the right way and doing that consistently.

"Some starts I feel like I've pitched worse than the ones when the results weren't so good," he said. "I just wanna control quality pitches. What I'm most proud of is how I've approached each outing.

"I just wanna strive to be consistent and I think I've done that. I feel like I own my process and my preparation. I focus on my preparation and work in between starts. I feel confident, I feel good right now."

Coach Ware knows the importance of mechanics with young pitchers, especially for somebody like Cotham who is transitioning back to the starting role after having shoulder surgery two years ago.

"Early on he was struggling a bit with his delivery," Ware said. "He would work east to west at times and didn't work over his front leg and pitch downhill.

"The last couple times out, his command has improved big time. He's been pitching north to south, finishing his pitches, his stride direction is all aligned and he's been able to keep the ball down and it's given him more sink and more depth on his slider.

"His first couple starts here were fine; he hit a little rut and we've worked through it and the last couple starts he's pitched well which is what I expect of him," Ware continued. "He's a command guy; he should be able to keep the ball down in the zone which he normally does and throw strikes to a location instead of just throwing strikes. What I've seen the last couple times out is exactly what I expect."

One thing Cotham is not concerned with are his statistics.

"There's always room for improvement," Cotham said. "Statistic goals don't mean much to me. I try not to get too caught up in numbers. A lot of that is out of my hands. I try to get the most out of each day and never take a day off."

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