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Brill overcomes a disastrous week

Brill overcomes a disastrous week


When you are a short-inning relief pitcher, a couple of days can make the statistics look like an entire season was a disaster.

Case in point, a four-game stretch for Moline native Matt Brill in late May and early June.

In his first 16 games (10 with Class A Visalia and six with Double-A Jackson), the Arizona Diamondbacks minor leaguer allowed five runs. In the 17 games from June 13 to present he has allowed two runs.

Those two stretches have seen Brill post a 3-1 record with seven saves and a 1.97 earned run average.

However, it was that stretch in the late spring that Brill would rather forget. The 24-year-old right-hander worked in four games, one of those a clean inning. In the other three he threw 4⅓ innings, allowing 14 hits, 14 runs (all earned) and walked seven.

In those four games, Brill was 0-3 with a 23.63 ERA.

"I really don't have an excuse," said Brill, whose ERA now stands at 5.06. "I would say there was a pretty big span (nine days) between going up to Visalia to Jackson where I didn't throw at all. I was just overthrowing and maybe had a little nerves.

"I lost confidence and I lost the closer's role."

The last game in that four-day stretch, on June 11 against Mississippi, Brill got only one out and left after allowing five hits, three walks and seven runs.

"I have never had that happen to me before in my life," Brill said. "I had a couple of shaky outings, but all along I thought I had good stuff and was throwing the ball really hard. It just happens. When it does, there seems to be a time where you can't get out of it and you start questioning everything you are doing.

"It really is a good experience to have just to see how you work your way out of it. An inning like that can wreck your season when it comes to the stats. Some guys never get out of something like that. I just knew I was having a good season."

And he's continued that good season. Brill leaned on members of the Diamondbacks organization, as well as some of his friends, to recover and get himself back on track.

In his 17 games since Brill has been scored on in just three games (one of those an unearned run) and he has allowed just seven hits in 14 innings.

"The common answer everyone gave me after that little stretch was to trust myself and stay with my same preparation," he said. "I brushed it off, made sure I didn't get lost within myself and remembered it is just part of the game."

Brill admits he struggled the next few days after that seven-run outburst but he was quick to put it behind him.

"Having never had something like that happen before it was not easy," he said. "I never thought I'd be giving up seven earnies in a third of an inning. You never think it is going to happen to you until it does. I wore it a little longer than I should have.

"It's a game of failure and I know my results are public knowledge. I worked my way out of the closer's role and I understood why that happened."

Since then, Brill has been working one-inning stints in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. He would love to get the closer's role back but is just looking at the results now.

"I've talked to the coaches about getting back in as closer and I think I am making a good case," he said. "I've done it all the way since I joined the organization (in 2017) and I hope they see I can do it.

"Right now, I'm fine with whatever they want me to do because in the minors it is more about reps and developing. You don't see guys going from the minors to the closer role much so it works out that I'm learning how to pitch as a set-up guy and in the middle innings."


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