Michael Grove returned to the Los Angeles Dodgers rotation to face the New York Yankees on Saturday in what was his first start since being put on the 15-day injured list April 21 because of a right groin strain.
Grove made two mistake pitches, which led to a loss, but his overall start was encouraging. The right-hander struck out a career-high-tying seven hitters, and most importantly, his fastball velocity was up 2.5 mph from his season average.
Before going on the IL, Grove’s fastball had an average velocity of 94.9 mph, but against the Yankees it sat at 96.4 mph, and even touched 98.1. Grove attributed the increased velocity to improving his mechanics while on the IL.
“Really just evaluating my delivery and how to use my legs a little bit better,” Grove explained. “It was nothing crazy. It was a small change, but it let me get behind the baseball a little bit better.”
Grove felt off in his first four starts with the Dodgers, so he was able to use the extra time to his advantage to get where he wanted to be.
“I think it was more just evaluating since I had a little bit of time,” Grove said. “Where I was at, I felt like I could get a little bit more out of my body. So just kind of breaking down and troubleshooting.”
Grove’s velocity bump was not just limited to his fastball either. His slider was up by 1.2 mph, curveball jumped by 1.9 mph and his changeup saw a 2.1 mph increase.
“It’s really important,” Grove said of the added velocity. “It’s not just on the fastball, the breaking stuff is a little bit harder as well. Every tick you get, you gain a little confidence throwing the heater.”
While it’s a positive change Grove will look to continue moving forward, he isn’t all convinced the velocity increase strictly came from his mechanics.
“With all the adrenaline, I don’t know how much of it is that as opposed to what I was working on,” Grove said. “But yeah, it’s something to build off of, for sure.”
Michael Grove feels mixed about first start back
While Grove looked sharp most of the game, his mistakes to Jake Bauers were both hit out of the park. He ended up going five innings while giving up four runs, along with the seven strikeouts and two walks.
“It always feels worse in a loss, but I made a lot of really good pitches and made some bad pitches that I got punished for,” Grove said. “So plenty to learn from and plenty to be happy with as well, I guess.”
Grove has a chance to stick in the rotation, even when Julio Urías returns from the 15-day injured list, and his first outing back was a good starting point toward showing he deserves an opportunity. But for now, he just wants to help the team win in any way he can.
“I want to fill in and help this team win, because we need that right now,” Grove said about his role. “Whatever I can do to be part of that, that’s what I’m looking for.”
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