Thursday, November 13, 2014

Catching up with Astros RHP Jordan Jankowski

I first spoke with Astros RHP Jordan Jankowski by phone following his dominant inaugural season for Greeneville's bullpen in 2012. (That interview can be found here.) And I have continued to follow his career closely since then.

In 2013, he started as part of one of the tandem pitching rotations with Quad Cities, but eventually landed back in the bullpen to finish off the season and earned an early August promotion to Lancaster. Fast forward to the 2014 season. Jankowski started the season in the bullpen at Corpus Christi (shown below with the other Bullpen Superheroes).



By late May, he made his way back into the tandem rotation. In 30 games (14 starts) for the season, he had a 3.58 ERA and a 1.074 WHIP. But those numbers don't really tell the story of how dominant he had become by the end of the season. In his final five games (four starts) of the season in August and September, he had a 1.50 ERA, a 0.750 WHIP and 14.3 strikeouts per nine innings. Jankowski hadn't shown that kind of dominance since his first season. I spoke with him by phone last week and asked him about his 2014 season.

After experiencing some arm soreness earlier in the season that hampered his consistency, Jordan was able to get back on track with help from Corpus Christi Pitching Coach Doug Brocail. According to Jankowski, "I had a little soreness here and there (and) I just wanted to tough it out. When I finally got 100%, me and Coach Brocail were working on some things in the bullpen and it kind of just clicked the last few weeks, and I finally started getting everything together."



Although Jankowski's numbers as a reliever are better than his starting stats, he has definitely more than held his own in a starting role. And he likes being seen for the flexibility of being able to handle either role. Jordan told me, "I just like that they trust me (to come in) from the bullpen later in the game and also trust me (to start). Hopefully it shows that I'm more versatile than some people think."

As to what, specifically, he was working on this past season, Jankowski said, "Working with Coach Brocail, we really worked on my fastball command, locating on both sides of the plate. Halfway through the year, I kind of lost my slider and my curveball, and we slowly worked on getting (those) back. And we finally got it to click. Also, we were working on a split change. At the end of the year, lefties were giving me a tough time because I didn't have a changeup. I actually went back to a grip I was using in high school." His college coach made him stop using the pitch, but Brocail was willing to let Jankowski work with it. Jankowski continued, "The more I threw it, the better and better it got. It actually became my best pitch to lefties. I'm going to keep working on it in the off season to get more confidence in it."

As far as what Jankowski feels he needs to do to keep making forward progress, he said, "I think just repeating my delivery on all of my pitches is one thing to work on. I need to pick up where I left off that last six weeks."

His goal is simple: stay healthy and be consistent for the whole season. If he can do that, I feel certain that he will keep moving forward and will continue to open some eyes.

Thank you for your time, Jordan, and best of luck in the 2015 season.

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