Langwell Getting Ahead at Columbus to Get Back to Cleveland
Matt Travis | On 29, Jul 2013
Every major league pitcher had that nerve-racking first outing, that first chance to come up to the big league level and leave your mark. While all players dream of having that perfect first outing, sometimes that is not the case, as Matt Langwell showed during his first start as an Indian. On June 1, Langwell came in to pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays and gave up his first major league home run just two pitches into his career, off the bat of Evan Longoria.
“I mean that wasn’t how I wanted to start but honestly I just buckled down and went after the next guy,” Langwell said. “You just have to keep attacking and pitching.”
The good thing about first impressions is that they are only one outing, as Langwell has pitched well since that start, mostly pitching back down in Columbus. During the last month while pitching for the Clippers, Langwell has a 2.13 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and a 3:1 strikeout to walk ratio.
“Langwell has been a great piece for us out of the bullpen,” Clippers manager Chris Tremie said. “He has been throwing his fastball with great control and hitting his spots. His off-speed pitches have been strong lately, too”
Langwell was born and raised in the state of Texas, where he played his college ball at Rice University. He was drafted by the Indians in the 11th round of the 2008 First Year Player draft and started playing right away with Mahoning Valley. While Langwell struggled his first year, he thrived his next two seasons, posting a 1.97 ERA with the Lake County Captains in 2009, then a 2.41 ERA in 2010 with the Kinston Indians.
In 2011, Langwell started the year at Double-A with Akron but ended up splitting his time between Akron and Columbus. Since the 2011 season, Langwell has lowered his ERA in Columbus every year, from 4.00 to 3.29 and now this year at 2.76. During his time with the Indians this year, Langwell has a 5.06 ERA over five and one-third innings pitched, giving up two of his three earned runs to Longoria during his first major league batter faced.
Despite Langwell moving between Columbus and Cleveland, his approach to the pitching does not change no matter where he is pitching.
“No matter where I am I just try to attack batters and get men out,” Langwell said. “If you get head of batters, you are going to be more successful at any level.”
This season when he has pitched for the Clippers, Langwell’s statistics have backed up his approach of attempting to get ahead in the count. When Langwell is pitching from behind, he has a 5.40 ERA with batters having a .317 batting average, and nine of his earned runs coming during that time. The opposite side shows however that Langwell is dominate when ahead of batters, limiting batters to just a .182 batting average, allowing just two earned runs and earning in ERA of only 1.17.
During the course of his career, Langwell has shown growth every season and has stuck to his fundamentals of getting ahead and using his fastball effectively. Langwell has been able to use his fundamentals and success on the mound to become a leader in the clubhouse and someone the rest of the bullpen looks to.
“Langwell is a leader in the bullpen, trying to set an example for the other guys,” Tremie said. “He is a hard worker, putting in the work he needs to get better and tries to help the other guys around him do the same.”
Langwell this season has been a key piece to the Clippers pitching staff, pitching in 36 games and having the fifth lowest ERA for pitchers who have pitched at least 10 innings for the Clippers. Langwell has shifted around a bit his season, starting one game and closing three others, Langwell overall has the role of a middle reliever with the Clippers, a role he would keep if moved back up to Cleveland again.
When pitching at any level, the idea of getting ahead of batters in drilled into pitchers. While some seem to dance around batters, Langwell has learned that by being aggressive and hitting the strike zone early, you can find great success. If he can continue to locate his fastball early in counts, while continuing to build strong off-speed pitches, the future is bright for Langwell. While his first impression with the Indians might not have taken the world by storm, it seems that Langwell is pitching with a purpose, hoping to show that he is ready to give fans a second impression.