Eric Lauer discusses his growth as a starter in the major leagues

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Eric Lauer discusses his growth as a starter in the major leagues

- The star of the game last night, Eric Lauer joining us. 23-year-old left-hander, big-leaguer, and you look the part right now with the headset on and everything. Eric, thanks for the time.

- How are you doing?

- We're doing well, buddy. How are you doing after a great outing last night?

- Good, good.

- I'll bet you are.

- You've got to be fee-- this is the best day, isn't it, the day after a good start?

- Oh, yeah. It's the best.

- Let me ask you this. You started the year like a lot of guys coming into this league. You don't know exactly what to expect. But I'm not going to put words in your mouth. At the outset, were you questioning your ability at all?

- At first, there were some doubts a little bit, I would say. But no. I knew that if I just kept working, and kept my head down, and kept doing what I had to do, things would turn around for me.

- It's easier said than done, right? But it's a tale of two disparate men right now. Because you would pitch so well here in the last month plus. What's been the biggest difference for you between how you were early on and where you are right now?

- The biggest part is probably just being comfortable. At first, I wasn't really 100% comfortable facing the major league hitters and everything. And I was trying too hard. I was pressing a little bit with my pitches. So just getting more comfortable, getting more innings under my belt really helped out.

NEWSCASTER: Eric we talked about the up and down to the beginning stages of your big league career. What veteran did you lean on most during that time?

- While I was struggling, it was more Tyson than Clayton, obviously. I leaned on Tyson a lot because we threw together pretty much every day. So he definitely helped me along with some pitch adjustments rather than mechanical things. But he also steered me in the right direction mentally and with struggles he's gone through in his career. So both of them have been a huge help.

- So specifically, Eric, what types of things do you tell somebody who is just trying to figure out-- what would Tyson say to you that would help your confidence?

- It was pretty general stuff. I don't want to get too deep into what he was telling me and everything. But he was just telling me, like, hey, everybody struggles, you're young, you're going to figure it out, you belong here, your stuff's good enough, just don't worry about it. Just keep your nose on the grind and things will turn around for you.

- Eric, we've talked a little bit about the recent success. Now, we've also talked about when you're struggling, you said there was some doubt there. What were some of the positive things that kept you going in the right direction as far as knowing that you belong there?

- That was one of the harder parts, was when things are going bad, it's hard to find the good things that are coming along with it too. But just having those guys in my corner, with Clayton, and Tyson, and Joey even, even though he's also a rookie, we back each other 100%. And just knowing they're behind you, it really helps out, really helps your confidence, even though things might not be looking great.

- Eric, we haven't seen you pitch much in the minor leagues. But I'm going to tell you our view of things, and you tell me if we're right or wrong. Coaches and managers alike all said you've got this great, even demeanor. We saw that. All of a sudden, you've got this uptick in velocity. We're seeing fist pumps out there after big plays defensively and strikeouts. Who are you?

- Well, that's funny, because after the game, my girlfriend texted me. And she said that's the most emotional scene out of you ever on or off the field. I told her. I was like, it's the big leagues, and it's a much more emotional game, I guess. So I'm glad that I'm finally able to show it a little bit with some fist pumps.

When you got great plays being made behind you, you have to show something. So it's cool because it's a lot tougher to get outs at this level. So you're trying so much harder. And when it pays off, you really just can't help it.

- I got a lot of respect for it because to me, it comes off as really genuine. You don't really show that type of emotion. When you do, I think it's appreciated because everybody knows it's real. You had success recently. There's been a lot of talk about this cutter you've been working on. How much has that helped in that, that success that you've had as of late?

- I think it's been great because I've been able-- I split my slider and cutter into two different pitches. So being able to really just let loose on the cutters played it up a little bit, and also given me another weapon and a true slider. And I think it just gets on hitters better because they have to look for two different speeds two different shapes.

- And now you're giving them fits, because if they ever do reach base, you're picking them off at a ridiculous rate right now. What's the genesis of this move? Because we know Clayton Richards' got a pretty good one. But how would you describe yours?

- I just try to make it look as close to how I pitch as possible. And once I get to a certain point where I have to show that I'm coming over, I just try to make it as quick as a SNAP throw as possible. I don't want it to be-- I've spent a lot of time working on it and trying to make it look identical in my pitching motion, which is what I would imagine a good pick off move looks like. So--

- Apparently does. We're not playing right now, but the guys will tell you the feedback you're getting on the bases, clearly, that's the case.

- Clearly, you're picking guys off when they're just trying to get secondary. So clearly, your move is really good. Let's talk a little bit about that move. To me, it looks almost like a step off move mixed in with the quick front foot, front leg getting down fast. Is that something that you've always worked on, or is that something you've added to your repertoire as you got into professional ball?

- I always thought the pick off is for a lefty, especially, has been a lost art in the game these days. I worked on it since I was little. And I've always enjoyed trying to hold the runners on better that way. And it's a good way to steal an out or something if they're not paying attention or if you can lull them to sleep.

So yeah, it's supposed to be as close to it as possible of my regular motion. And then as soon as I hit that point where it's probably at that 45 or it's close, I just try to make it as quick snap throw as fast as I can, get the leg down fast. So it shocks them when they see it too because they're expecting a nice, smooth leg kick and everything else that comes with it. But instead, they get a quick snap throw from the side.

- Eric, it's a performance game. Clearly, you're performing very well. But away from the field, what are you enjoying most about being in the big leagues?

- Everything. There's nothing to not enjoy.

NEWSCASTER: I know, fancy hotels, pretty decent meal money. You're not making a grand over two months. But what about the experience that you're enjoying the most?

- I would say it's the experience itself is the coolest part, is the fact that you know you're a big leaguer, and you get treated like a big leaguer. There's a certain-- I don't know-- there's a certain air that comes with it, of just knowing that you're playing at the highest level, and you're being treated like you play at the highest level, and people are recognizing you for that. And it's just a cool feeling to be able to walk around and say, hey, I'm a major league pitcher.

- You're still giving autographs, right? You haven't gotten too cool for that, right?

- No. I still hand out balls, and give autographs and everything.

- Oh, we know you do. The fans actually have really taken, I think, a great affinity toward your effort, really loved the performance you had last night, and the passion you were showing out there. I think your girlfriend's on to something.

- I think she is.

- Turn it up a notch.

- She's going to be expecting a little more emotion out of me now.

- Maybe a little bit more if the [INAUDIBLE] keeps rolling. You're on the spot. All righty, thanks for the time, man.

- Thank you.

- You got it. Eric Lauer, the winning pitcher last night--