Padres Prospect Interview: Rob Musgrave

Rob Musgrave

San Diego Padres prospect Rob Musgrave has found a home in the bullpen, mixing his pitches and finding a rhythm. He credits the success to the improvement of his curveball location and more two-seamers.

Talk to me first about winning the Midwest League championship. What was it like for you personally and as a team?

Rob Musgrave: For me, personally, it was really exciting. We put together a great year from the start all the way until the end. It was really exciting to be a part of something like that. As a team, it was awesome to win. I think the biggest thing about our success was that we all played together. We all worked hard. We fought for each other. We were just like a true team. It was probably one of the best team experiences I've ever been a part of.

Talk a little bit about your changing role. You started out as a starter. You ended up in the pen, where you had a lot of success. Was there a change for you when that happened?

Rob Musgrave: I don't know. I got moved to the bullpen because I was struggling as a starter. I went in with the mindset that I wanted to get better every day. That didn't change. Just being able to go out and execute my pitches and doing it more effectively than I'd done. Getting some success – I think that played a big part in my change over the course of the year. I changed a couple things in my delivery. That helped me have added success. I wasn't having success as a starter, so they moved me to the pen. That ended up helping the team out, so I was all for it.

How do you measure the success of a pitch?

Rob Musgrave: If I'm hitting my spot with it. If it's missing barrels, the guys are barreling it up too much, then it's a successful pitch. Sometimes, you'll throw the perfect pitch in the perfect spot and it will still get hit. I try to work on the stuff that I can control, which is everything until the ball leaves my hand. Trying to get a good pitch, get it out front, and having good mechanics. If I'm able to do those things, then over the course of the season, 140 games, I'll have success for the most part.

You mentioned changing a couple things. What were those things?

Rob Musgrave: I was having trouble staying back at the first part of the year. I started really concentrating on staying back. I started long-tossing a lot, and I got some added velocity toward the end of the year. That helped a lot with my off-speed pitches.

Did it feel like when you weren't staying back that's when the pitches were getting elevated?

Rob Musgrave: Yeah, when I'm not staying back that's when I'll miss a lot arm-side high. My changeup was just kind of floating in instead of having a late sink. So, it was getting hit pretty hard for the first half of the season. I decided to just stay back, add some deception, have a little bit more power behind me.

You got seven inherited runners. None of them scored on you. How new was that for you, just to come in with guys on base?

Rob Musgrave: I like pitching in that situation, with guys on base. I'm just trying to get the job done, do what's best for the team. Coming in with guys on base, I had the mindset that I'd go in and get a strikeout or a weakly hit ball to get out of the inning.

Was there a different routine for you going into that pen?

Rob Musgrave: Yeah. You never know when you're going to pitch out of the bullpen. You could pitch two or three days in a row, or you could pitch one day and have five or six days off. It definitely made me get into more of a daily routine. I was doing pretty much the same stuff every day, long-tossing, throwing flat grounds, and getting on the mound every two or three days. That helped me stay sharp. It's a lot different, especially not knowing if you're going to pitch that day.

How tough is it on the adrenaline side? You kind of get up, you're throwing in the bullpen, and then they don't even call your name and you're like, ‘What's that all about?'

Rob Musgrave: It can be tough. Sometimes, you'll have a pitcher who starts to struggle a little bit, but then they find their stride. If they start having success and I don't have to go in, that's a good thing for the team. I just try to keep the same mindset of always be ready. I was in a role where I needed to be ready in the second inning through the seventh or eighth inning. I just tried to keep that mindset so I'm ready all the time, keep my mental game sound the whole time. I could just come in whenever they needed.

How can you limit the homers? Seems like they got to you a little.

Rob Musgrave: Yeah. Obviously, most of it was the first half. It was just leaving balls up in the zone. In all of professional baseball, if you start leaving balls up in the zone, they're going to start hitting them pretty well. It doesn't matter what level you are. So, the biggest thing is just to keep the ball now. I started working on a two-seam later in the year that I could kind of get a little bit of sink on that the hitters aren't going to be able to get under the ball as easy. My four-seam tends to even rise a little bit, so it's a lot easier to get in the air. I started working on that a lot. I started working on my cutter, which has a little bit of a two-plane movement, so I could get even more ground balls. Just keeping the ball down is the biggest thing, well-located fastballs.

Is there a comfort level for you in the windup versus the stretch? Perhaps, it's easier for you to stay back when you're in that windup because the checkpoints come easier.

Rob Musgrave: I feel like I'm pretty strong from both the windup and the stretch. I haven't really even thought about it that much. I don't really know. I don't really feel any different from the stretch, so I just try to make sure that when I get to the top of my delivery that I'm staying back and not starting to fall forward. I can do that from both the windup and the stretch.

Is the curveball still something you're working on?

Rob Musgrave: Definitely. I'm always working on something. This past fall, I worked a lot on my curveball and my two-seam. I'm trying to get a little bit more consistent with my curveball so I can throw it for a strike on any count. I've got three other pitches that I can throw for a strike on any count and just having that one more pitch that I can throw for a strike is always a plus. I'm just trying to work on making that a little sharp and a little bit more consistent.

Is there any expectation for you about going back into starting rotation versus the bullpen?

Rob Musgrave: I don't know. Whatever they want me to do as an organization. I'm more than happy to do whatever is needed. I like throwing out of the bullpen. I like starting. Just anywhere I can get the ball is good for me.

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