Cotham Turning Things Around

Cotham has allowed 2 ER in last 6 starts

MOOSIC, PA – It's been a tale of two seasons for Caleb Cotham. After being promoted to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in May, the right-hander struggled with the adjustment. Since the All-Star Break, however, he's turned things around and become the pitcher he knew he could be.

"I think it's been a good [season] in terms of development for me," Cotham said of his first Triple-A season. "It's been good just from the standpoint of learning how to go at a lineup with a lot of veteran guys – guys that really know what they're doing. It's been fun to test myself and see what I got against that kind of talent."

The 25-year-old Vanderbilt product began the season in Double-A Trenton. In seven appearances with the Thunder, Cotham went 2-1 with a 3.72 ERA in 29 innings pitched. On May 9 he was promoted to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre where success didn't come easy.

In eleven appearances, nine of which were starts, for the RailRiders prior to the All-Star Break, Cotham went 2-5 with a 7.15 ERA in 50.1 innings. He allowed 66 hits, 40 earned runs, nine home runs and 24 walks, while only striking out 35. Opponents were hitting .319 against him. He was even demoted back to Trenton to pitch in a game.

"It's definitely a learning experience," he said about his first half struggles. "You don't want to fail. [When] you go out there, you want to do your best every time. The worst part is that you don't feel like you gave your team a chance to win that night, which is something I take pride in.

"It was tough, but I used it as a motivating factor. It might have been the best thing that could have happened to me this year."

When the second half of the season began, it was as if it was a brand new season. In nine games since, Cotham has gone 4-0 with a 1.83 ERA in 44.1 innings. He's only given up two home runs and nine walks, while striking out 25.

Cotham credits his turnaround to getting better as a pitcher and allowing himself to execute pitches.

"I've been able to slow the game down a little bit, something I didn't do that very well in the first of the year," he said. "I think I've done a decent job of executing in disadvantage counts in tough innings that's gotten me over that hump in a game.

"Not every game is going to be perfect – you're rarely going to have your A-stuff," he added. "Pitching is learning how to figure it out when you have less than your best."

Cotham also said that he's really been able to see how different the batters are at the Triple-A level compared to those at lower levels. He knows that at the end of the day, he still has to pitch no matter what level he's at. It's just a matter of pitching smarter.

"Guys here definitely give away less at-bats," he said. "If they get down, they're gonna battle with you – they have a plan, and they're more reluctant at this level to give that plan up. You have to pitch to your strengths but know what they're looking for and adjust accordingly."

Cotham's execution and command of his pitches are things he knew he needed to work on when he first got to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in order to be successful. He eventually had to get to the point where he could have the confidence to throw his secondary pitches [slider, changeup and curveball] in a fastball count – something he believes he's accomplished.

"A big part of the second half for me is that I've been able to use four pitches and mix it up real well," he said. "I think I've been less predictable. I'm able to throw my slider; my curveball got better for me, and my changeup's come along a little bit.

"I feel confident with almost any pitch in any count, and I think that's helped me out."

Cotham is scheduled to start the last game of the season Monday at Rochester. Whatever happens after is out of his control, and he knows that. He's just going to keep the same mentality as he's had all season.

"Throw a lot of strikes, force contact and see what happens."

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