Carolina notes: Schlosser's side route

Hillcats' right-handed starter comfortable with unique delivery

Gus Schlosser is 12-4 with a 2.91 ERA in 22 starts for Lynchburg this year. (Cheryl Key/Hillcats)

By Jeff Seidel / Special to | August 8, 2012 6:55 AM ET

Gus Schlosser's heard the comments. He knows some think it's unusual for a starting pitcher to be a side-winder, but the Lynchburg right-hander lets his numbers do the talking.

Schlosser recently posted a string of 29 scoreless innings and is one of the Carolina League's best pitchers, at or near the top in a number of statistical categories. He's 12-4 with a 2.91 ERA after 22 starts.

There's not many starting pitchers who throw from the side. It's much more common with relief pitchers, but Schlosser dropped down to be a side-winder during his sophomore year in college to help him repeat his mechanics better.

"I know I'm different," Schlosser said. "I get that all the time, but it's alright. The Braves haven't said a thing to me. They see it's working well for me so they don't want me to change at all. So I guess different is good sometimes."

The move worked, and he's never gone back. Atlanta picked him in the 17th round of the 2011 Draft, and he pitched out of the bullpen last season with two teams before being converted back to a starter this season.

"It feels natural to me," Schlosser said of his motion. "It doesn't feel forced. I'm perfectly comfortable with it."

The numbers certainly back up Schlosser's words. Even though he throws mostly in the high 80's with his fastball (two-seam and four-seam), Schlosser also uses a slider and change and has posted 112 strikeouts in 139 1/3 innings.

He's walked only 25 and allowed just seven homers. Opposing hitters have a .236 batting average against him.

Lynchburg pitching coach Derek Botelho said they wanted Schlosser to remain comfortable this year while changing back to a starter. They even let him pitch out of the stretch at first until he felt good coming out of the wind-up, which Schlosser's throwing out of now.

"He's become a pretty good-looking prospect," Botelho said. "[The Braves] are very, very excited about his progress. He's a guy that's put himself in the spotlight."

The long scoreless streak also helped. Schlosser posted four straight scoreless starts before allowing a run in the first inning last Friday at Carolina.

That was the kind of consistency that the 6-foot-4 Sarasota, Fla., native has given Lynchburg throughout the season. He was a big reason the Hillcats won the Northern Division in the first half.

"He's the horse on this club," Lynchburg manager Luis Salazar said. "He's going to give you a chance to compete. He keeps us in the ballgame."

Even if what he does is a little different.

In brief

Trying for .500: Northern Division teams have had trouble getting above the .500 mark this year. Lynchburg won the first half (39-31) as the lone winning team and led the division in the second half after Monday's games with a 21-22 record, though Frederick, Potomac and Wilmington are all currently within one game of the Hillcats.

Timely hitting: Cyle Hankerd has been struggling lately but came through as a pinch-hitter for Winston-Salem last Thursday. His three-run double in the eighth inning gave the Dash a 6-4 victory over Wilmington. He doubled to left and advanced to third on the throw.

Dominant: Dylan Bundy gave up one run on two hits in 6 2/3 innings for Frederick in his most recent start last Wednesday. He struck out eight and walked two as the Keys beat Lynchburg, 7-1. He's now 5-3 with a 2.57 ERA with Frederick.

Jeff Seidel is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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