Justin Dillon admits he was off his game to start the season. He's definitely remedied things since then.The Toronto right-hander allowed two hits while striking out six over seven frames as Class A Advanced Dunedin shut out Charlotte, 1-0, at Jack Russell Memorial Stadium. That extended his scoreless streak to
Justin Dillon admits he was off his game to start the season. He's definitely remedied things since then.
The Toronto right-hander allowed two hits while striking out six over seven frames as Class A Advanced Dunedin shut out Charlotte, 1-0, at Jack Russell Memorial Stadium. That extended his scoreless streak to 19 consecutive innings.
But it took Dillon some time to acclimate to the Florida State League. In seven starts between April 12 and May 19, he gave up 24 earned runs -- including eight homers -- in 34 1/3 innings.
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"Honestly, it has been a hard battle since the beginning of this year," the 25-year-old said. "We were trying to figure out what was going on and why I wasn't performing to my abilities."
Dillon spent time with Blue Jays pitching coach Jim Czajkowski along and listened to what his catchers and teammates had to say. Czajkowski noticed his pitcher was opening early, allowing hitters to spot the ball sooner.
"I was kind of falling on my back side just a hair early," Dillon said. "The second my leg came up, I was a couple of inches forward of where I needed to be. Czajkowski got me doing a drill where I come up and I pause before I go toward home plate. It started kind of clicking and the rhythm caught up. My velocity started going up on my pitches a little bit. It allowed me to be a little bit more free. With that being said, I feel like the hitters now aren't seeing it [the ball] quite as well because I'm not flying open."
Never losing confidence despite the early struggles, the 2017 10th-round pick has everything ticking as of late. He said his fastball has more zip, he's able to throw his slider at any time to keep hitters guessing. The curve has been a work in progress.
"My last bullpen I told him that all I wanted to work on was throwing my curveball," he said. "Every pitch I have looked good besides the curveball, but [Czajkowski] told me to be patient with it and it would come."
That curve was on target Tuesday with Dillon throwing 50 of 76 pitches for strikes. A look back at last season helped factor into the success.
"I went back to my journal and looked at what I did before last year and saw a couple of keys that I focused on," the 6-foot-3 righty said. "Next thing I know, it worked tonight. I kept my back leg vertical as long as I could when throwing a pitch."
Dillon retired the first 10 batters of the game before a one-out single by Michael Perez in the fourth inning. A fielding error by Blue Jays No. 27 prospect Kevin Vicuña put Thomas Milone on first base with two outs in the fifth, but Dillon struck out Russ Olive to end the inning.
Perez's two-out single in the sixth was the last dent against the Sacramento State product as he retired the next four to end his night.
With a 4-1 record, Dillon has allowed just 10 hits and three walks while striking out 15 over his shutout streak, which dates back to May 24. His ERA sits at 3.66 over 61 innings.
Right-hander Dany Jimenez (4-1) hurled two perfect innings, striking out three, to pick up the win.
Logan Warmoth drove in the eventual game-winner on a one-out single to right field in the eighth.
Lefty Michael Plassmeyer (2-2) allowed a run on four hits while striking out seven in five innings of relief.
Brian Stultz is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @brianjstultz.