Inside The Ivy: What can you tell us about the transition from the rotation to the bullpen earlier this year?
Bobby Brownlie: They just asked me if I thought I could do it. I said I’d try it out and I had some pretty good success. It was hard learning how to throw in the bullpen, learning exactly how many pitches to throw. The hardest thing was learning not to throw too many pitches warming up. Jermaine Van Buren helped me out a lot with the move. I put together a group of good innings there.
Inside The Ivy: Who first talked to you about the move?
Bobby Brownlie: Rick Kranitz talked to me a little about it and said with the situation I was in, coming off the DL at the time, it was a great chance to get my pitch count up. It was a great opportunity and I made the most out of it. The biggest thing for me was that it allowed me to throw in games a little more frequently. It also helped me figure out some things that I was struggling with mechanically.
Inside The Ivy: What were some of those things?
Bobby Brownlie: Earlier in the year, I was falling off behind the ball; I wasn’t staying behind it and I didn’t have the command I normally prided myself on. By throwing more out of the bullpen every third day, I was able to get into a little groove. When I went back to starting, the momentum carried over and my velocity has even started to go back up as a result.
Inside The Ivy: You’ve now made a few starts in a row. Is this where you plan to stay for the rest of this season and beyond?
Bobby Brownlie: I do plan to finish out the season in the starting rotation. That’s what I’ve been told. On the other hand, it’s a positive for me to show the Cubs I can do both. If they need me in the bullpen, I’m able to go there. I’m happy because it showcased my versatility as a pitcher.
Inside The Ivy: Overall, how much did you enjoy pitching from the ‘pen as opposed to the rotation?
Bobby Brownlie: I enjoyed it a lot, because I felt it gave me an opportunity to play every day I went to park. As a starter, you know you’re only playing every fifth day. The hardest work is on the days you don’t pitch. I really enjoyed coming to the field every day knowing I had the opportunity to pitch every night and get into any game. It really relaxed me. There were times when I was nervous before starting. In the bullpen, you were warmed up before you even knew it. Now that I’ve gone back to starting, my nerves have been more calm. I think it was a confidence issue. At the start of the year when I was struggling, it was hard on my confidence.
Inside The Ivy: How hard exactly?
Bobby Brownlie: It was hard because I knew last year that I did everything I could to prepare myself to perform at the level of excellence I expected from myself. At the beginning of this year, it was frustrating because the ball wasn’t coming out of my hand the right way. I tried to prepare myself in the offseason so that it would. Once I watched some films while I was on the DL, I was able to get away from all the bad habits that I had developed. Now, I have a positive mindset each time out. I think it was a blessing in disguise.
Inside The Ivy: Going back to the dip in velocity--how concerned were you/are you with it?
Bobby Brownlie: It was a little bit of a bigger concern last year at this time than it has been this year. Even the other day when I went out, I got up to 92 mph the first couple of innings. I felt I had more coming out of my arm. Early on, I felt like I was giving everything I had trying to throw harder. When I used to throw 96 mph, I was easy, smooth and relaxed. The Cubs were worried about me overthrowing the ball last year when it wasn’t coming out of my hand the right way. Now, I’m just letting my arm work and physical ability take over.
Inside The Ivy: What are some of the things the organization has you working on at the moment?
Bobby Brownlie: Nothing specifically. Coach Kranitz and I have talked about my long-term goal, which of course is pitching in the big leagues. Sometimes you get into trouble with that mindset. I know now that I’m going to be a better pitcher when I walk off the field than I did when I walked on. We’ve talked a lot about having more short-term goals. When you put focus on making it to the big leagues as the end goal, you tend to press and try to make up too much ground in one day. If you stay on top of each day and concentrate on making one thing better each day, it makes that goal a little bit closer.
Inside The Ivy: Has anything else changed in terms of your mechanics, approach, or various other instincts?
Bobby Brownlie: I think in the beginning of the year, I got away from attacking hitters like I always had. I eventually decided that if they hit it, they hit it. Earlier in the year, I was trying to hit the corners too much instead of pounding the strike zone like I’ve always been able to do. Since then, I’ve been able to get shorter pitch counts and bump my strikeout totals up.
Inside The Ivy: That’s one of the things we wanted to ask you about--the increase in walks in contrast to your season at West Tenn a year ago.
Bobby Brownlie: Yeah, it’s just all about pounding the strike zone and trusting your stuff. There’s no more throwing this pitch and hoping it doesn’t get hit. If they get a hit, it’s not the end of the world. I looked at it like that and have had a very good year besides a couple of outings. There were a couple of big innings this year that I wasn’t able to avoid. You’re going to have those big innings, but if you’re able to minimize them, you’ll be all right. But when you give them free passes on walks, it’s easier for them to score runs. A solo homer you can manage, because it doesn’t put your team out of the game. Just being aggressive is what it’s all about. I got away from that earlier.
Inside The Ivy: What are some of the things you have planned in the offseason? We understand congratulations are in order.
Bobby Brownlie: Thanks. My fiancé has been coming to the park a lot lately. I’m getting married in less than five months on January 7, so it takes my mind off the game. When I’m away from the stadium, I’m away from baseball. It’s such a long period and you’re around it so much that it can become a drag. When she’s here, we’ll watch a movie or catch a good dinner together. Baseball is just something I do; it’s not who I am. It’s nice to get away sometimes. When you get to the field, it’s all business. Away from it, you have to be yourself.
Inside The Ivy: Congrats on your upcoming nuptials. We’ll catch up with you in a few weeks.
Bobby Brownlie: Thanks very much. It was great talking.