Durham pitcher Michael Roth won his second consecutive start last week, leading the Bulls to a 4-1 win over the Charlotte Knights.
It had been a rough start in a new town for the former South Carolina Gamecock, who joined the Tampa Bay Rays system on July 8 after opting out of his minor-league deal with the San Francisco Giants organization. Roth had to make adjustments before finally settling in and finding his groove with the Bulls.
It was Roth’s fifth start for theTriple-A Bulls, and things got off to a rocky start with his new club. One day after he was added to the roster Roth, 27, gave up six hits and four runs to Toledo in a 5-1 loss. He dropped to 0-2 when Indianapolis had eight hits and four runs off him nine days later.
Roth quickly found himself at 0-3 before he had a successful start. In six innings of work, Roth, a lefty who led South Carolina to consecutive College World Series championships, pitched six innings against Buffalo, surrendering three hits, no runs, while striking out three in his first win.
At home against Charlotte, perhaps for the first time this season, Roth felt and looked comfortable on the mound. Durham manager Jared Sandberg said the experience helps. It also helps that Roth has had a chance to settle and focus on baseball, instead of all the things that go along with being assigned to a new team midseason.
“I think he came here to new surroundings, a new setting and he was trying to do too much,” Sandberg said. “He made some small adjustments to his delivery and his stuff, but the experience has paid off.”
Roth threw 79 pitches in six innings of work against Charlotte, giving up two hits and no runs, while striking out four, earning his first home win.
One difference, Roth said, was focusing on executing every pitch. He said he wasn’t “locked in” versus the Knights, but rather focused on making good pitches. Another thing that helped was a sit down with Bulls’ pitching coach Kyle Snyder.
Snyder helped Roth establish a rhythm. Snyder was initially hesitant to make many suggestions, mainly because he wasn’t that familiar with Roth.
“I typically don’t like to jump to conclusions after watching a guy pitch for the first few games,” Snyder said. “I was just taking stock of what my eyes were telling me.”
But Roth wanted an extra set of eyes on what he was doing, so he and Snyder watched film from the past couple of seasons. Snyder talked with Roth about going back to the windup to create some rhythm in his delivery and it’s worked out well.
“As far as pitching goes, this game is a lot about how you feel,” Roth said. “I was just feeling terrible out there, no other way to put it. I didn’t feel like the ball was coming out right. My pitches were telling me that, too, just by the swings I was getting.”
By watching the film, Roth wanted to return to being fluid and more athletic on the mound. After a few sessions of throwing in the bullpen, things are back to normal.
“It finally feels better,” Roth said. “It feels back to the way that I am capable of throwing, which is nice.”