TEMPE, Ariz. — It was no mystery to Chase Silseth why he was so much more hittable the deeper he worked into major-league games last season.
The Angels right-hander said he could feel his legs tightening after a few innings, to the point that he’d be “just dead with my legs. I couldn’t even walk.”
Silseth said he spent the winter putting an emphasis on strengthening his legs.
After 10 innings over three Cactus League games, Silseth said he can tell that those extra sprints and extra hours on the bike will help him avoid what was one of the biggest issues in his rookie season.
“It was really frustrating to be lights out in the first four innings, then all of the sudden the fifth comes, and we’d be up 3-1 and I’d give up a three-run jack,” Silseth said.
Silseth held opponents to a .784 OPS over his first 60 pitches, but after that opponents had a 1.351 OPS against him. His average fastball went from 95.4 mph in his first 60 pitches to 94.4 mph.
The average exit velocity he allowed went from 92.1 mph to 95.7 mph.
The difficulty as he got deeper into games spoiled some promising outings, leaving him with a 6.59 ERA after seven big-league starts in 2022.
There was some thought within the organization that Silseth may just be better as a reliever because he was unable to maintain his stuff over longer outings.
Silseth, a 22-year-old who was less than a year removed from the draft when he made his major-league debut in May, said the issue was simply that he needed to change the way he was conditioned.
“Just attacked (my legs) in a whole different way,” Silseth said. “If I had sprints, do a couple extra. Add an extra leg day. I’d have two lower leg days and one upper body, then I’d have a core day but I’d add lower body, just to get them stronger. If I had reps on the bike to do, I’d do a couple extra. Every leg workout I do is going to help me have some stamina. It’s done wonders.”
Silseth learned another trick to maintaining his stamina just a couple of weeks ago. Pitching coach Matt Wise and Angels veterans finally got the admittedly high-strung Silseth to just relax in the dugout between innings instead of pacing up and down.
“I was telling Reid (Detmers), ‘Holy cow this makes a difference,’” Silseth said. “And he said ‘Why do you think we do it?’”
Silseth has also added a cutter to his repertoire this spring. He said it’s given him “a different dimension,” particularly against lefties.
“I’m loving it right now,” Silseth said. “I’m going to continue to grow with it. I just started throwing it. It surprises me how comfortable I am with it. I just can’t wait to keep working at it.”
The combination of stronger legs, a new approach to energy conservation and a new repertoire has helped Silseth make a strong impression as he fights for a job in the Angels’ rotation. He is battling left-hander Tucker Davidson and right-hander Griffin Canning for the No. 6 spot.
All three have pitched well this spring. Silseth is probably last among the group because Davidson is out of options and Canning has more experience, but obviously the Angels will have a need for him at some point.
“I’m excited for whatever this year has in store,” Silseth said. “Wherever I pitch, I’m ready to go.”
Manager Phil Nevin went to Chase Field on Wednesday night to see Mike Trout drive in all three runs in Team USA’s World Baseball Classic victory, and then he woke up at 3 a.m. to see Shohei Ohtani pitch Japan to a quarterfinal victory over Italy.
“Watching Mike, watching Shohei on these stages, you can’t help but look forward to the future and understand these are big-time players, and look forward to what they’ll be on the big stage of the playoffs too,” Nevin said.
After Ohtani worked 4-2/3 innings on 71 pitches for Japan on Thursday, Nevin would not comment on what’s next for him. Ohtani is not expected to pitch again in the WBC, instead making his next start for the Angels in an exhibition on March 24, then pitching in the Angels’ March 30 season opener in Oakland.
“I think out of respect for the Japanese team and the way they plan out their games, we’ll leave it up to them (to announce),” Nevin said. “We know what he’s going to do, but we’ll keep that between us.”
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Outfielder Jordyn Adams is 8 for 20 (.400) with an 1.150 OPS in spring training. “He’s translated some swing changes he’s made into games,” Nevin said. “We feel really good about it. Obviously, he’s still in camp, which is a credit to him. We made some moves to get some more guys some more at-bats, but there’s still some at-bats for him to have here. There’s still some looks we want to take of him. He’s an exciting player. I think there’s a lot in there. Somebody that we really think can impact us down the line in the future.”