Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
Michael Grove turned in one of his best starts of the season as the Los Angeles Dodgers blew out the Baltimore Orioles with a 10-3 victory on Tuesday.
Grove pitched five-plus innings, giving up just one run on five hits while striking out four and walking two. It was a step in the right direction for Grove, but the most noticeable aspect was how he managed to limit damage when facing left-handed hitters.
Entering the game, lefties were batting .345/.430/.586 off Grove this season, compared to a .267/.294/.476 line from right-handers. But facing the Orioles, left-handers went just 3-for-15 (.200) with four strikeouts and two walks against Grove.
It was also more than just random luck as Grove has been developing a cutter to use against lefties and found some positive results with it, he said via Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:
“Just kind of needed something to throw in on lefties,” Grove said. “I’ve been working on it the last couple of weeks and kind of got in a groove with it today and it ended up working. So I just kept sticking with it.
“It’s one of those pitches you kind of ease in and see how guys’ swings are against it. Like today, it was giving them some problems and kept going until somebody did something.”
Grove threw his cutter 18 times in the game, which represented 20% of his pitches. He first debuted the cutter on June 28, but he only threw in 25 total times over three appearances before breaking it out fully on Tuesday.
Grove’s cutter was also his most effective pitch against the Orioles, posting a called strikes + whiff rate of 39%, which is nearly an elite level for any pitch. He recorded five called strikes and two whiffs when throwing the cutter.
If the 26-year-old can continue to find success with the pitch, it changes his outlook from a likely relief option to a potential solid starter as getting lefties out has been Grove’s biggest issue. It’s only one start utilizing the pitch fully, but it showed a lot of promise against a top lineup with a lot of quality lefty hitters.
Michael Grove has embraced uncertain role with Dodgers
Pitching for both L.A. and Triple-A Oklahoma City, Grove has been utilized in different roles this season, including starting pitcher, opener and high-leverage reliever. “It’s one of those things that kind of comes with the territory,” Grove recently said.
“I understand what my job is, and I’m trying to eliminate as many excuses as I can and go out there and do what I can.”
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