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LHP Dan Lietz Putting it Together in Lansing

Lietz is pitching with more confidence in 2016

LHP Dan Lietz Putting it Together in Lansing

July 18, 2016

Dan Lietz is putting together a solid season in Lansing. (Kyle Castle)

Dan Lietz is putting together a solid season in Lansing. (Kyle Castle)

 

Taking a step back this past off-season, left-handed pitcher Dan Lietz got a clearer understanding on what he needed to do to find success in professional baseball. This came about after a brief chat with his former coach at Heartland Community College and the advice he received might have rejuvenated the young hurlers career.

“My college coach told me to go back to what got me here,” stated Lietz. “I went back there with some minor tweaks. It seemed to work and I feel great right now.”

After three seasons of ups and downs with his command, Lietz was able to piece it all together during spring camp and the experience is translating nicely as he is quickly becoming one of the Lansing Lugnuts best relievers. With opposing hitters only managing a .053 average against him in the month of July, while sporting a .255 season mark and it appears Lietz is moving in the right direction.

“I had the best spring training of my career,” said Lietz. “My fastball command was unbelievable. I was able to hit any spot with my fastball and that’s a nice place to start.”

Another promising sign is his 1.39 WHIP which is a career high for the lefty. Obviously, he’ll be working hard to lower it a little more before the seasons end, but it’s great seeing the former 5th round pick finding improved numbers on the mound.

This gain comes from his ability to use his three pitches to his advantage every outing. Currently using a mix of a fastball, slider, and changeup, Lietz has made many positive strides this season with his repertoire. One of which is adding sink to his low-90’s fastball, which complements his changeup nicely.

“I don’t throw my fastball too hard. But I’ve been able to sink it with movement,” explained Lietz. “This was something that really helped me in spring training, because I don’t have to trick anybody the hitters get themselves out.”

“The changeup has a lot of advantages, because it keeps hitters off my fastball,” Lietz added. “The changeup helps me keep the hitters from squaring up my fastball and throwing the changeup makes my fastball look that much faster even though it’s not.”

Having the opportunity to see these changes first-hand, Lansing Lugnuts pitching coach Jeff Ware discusses what he has liked about working with Lietz this year. Initially working with the lefty two years ago as a member of the Vancouver Canadians, Ware feels the prospect has improved his game a lot since that time.

“I worked with Dan Lietz two years ago and he had trouble throwing strikes,” stated Ware. “Dan has always had a good fastball with good deception and this year he’s putting it together. Dan is more confident and has a better feel for the strike zone. Both of those things has really helped him a lot.”

Obviously the talk with his former coaches has motivated Lietz as well. Staying connected with his collegiate program has been a great way to get advice from guys that have gone through the same process he is experiencing right now.

“Heartland was the best time of my life,” stated Lietz. “All of my coaches were amazing. I had two coaches that played professional baseball. One made it to triple-A, another made it to double-A, and my head coach lives and breathes baseball. We loved it and we love him.”

It’s great that Lietz has this amazing resource to help keep his confidence up for better numbers in the Blue Jays minor league system. If he can continue to perform the way he has this season in Lansing some opportunities on higher level teams will be in his near future.

But until that day comes, fans of the Toronto Blue Jays will be rooting Dan Lietz on as a member of the Lansing Lugnuts quality bullpen.