Cam Vieaux Finding Success With His Slider in the Bullpen

ST. PETERSBURG – Cam Vieaux had just finished throwing a bullpen in Gwinnett when Indianapolis pitching coach asked him what he was focused on during the session.

As Vieaux was explaining things, Indianapolis manager Miguel Perez was gathering the rest of the team to let Vieaux know that he would be going to the majors.

“I heard my name a couple of times and saw everyone looking at me, so I was like I guess this is happening now,” said Vieaux of the moment.

Drafted by the Pirates in the sixth round of the 2016 draft, the 28-year-old lefty spent most of his career as a starter, before reaching the majors in his move to the bullpen.

“It’s a long time coming,” said Vieaux. Now that it’s actually here, it kind of makes everything feel like it flew by.”

Vieaux made the switch to the bullpen last year, working more of a hybrid role at times, before settling into a single inning role, with the occasional added frame.

“Sometimes I miss starting,” said Vieaux the day after his June 24th appearance. “But when I wake up after pitching last night, my arm wasn’t killing me. I’m a big fan of these one inning outings. I still think I’m kind of having the same approach I did as a starter. Just attack from pitch one, and go as long as they’ll let me go.”

A key difference is that Vieaux would budget his pitches as a starter — and in a multi-inning hybrid role. He would focus on getting out of each inning in 15 pitches. As a one inning reliever, the only focus has been on getting through the inning, regardless of the pitch count.

Vieaux’s slider has had success in the majors in his limited work. The pitch has generated an 18.9% swinging strike rate, and a .708 OPS against.

“Leading up to coming up here, it wasn’t feeling great,” said Vieaux. “It was very good for me early on, and then I tried to do too much with it, making it better than I needed to.”

Vieaux said that his slider on the June 24th outing felt more like the pitch in Spring Training and in April. The biggest thing that helped was getting away from trying to force action on the pitch.

“It’s pretty hard to tell yourself not to do that while you’re out there trying to strike someone out,” said Vieaux. “Just trusting my grips, and letting those do their things.”

Overall, Vieaux has taken the mindset to allow things to happen in the game, and trust his pre-game work and throwing program.

“[I use] that time to mess around with things, and see what feels right, so that when it’s time to get ready to go out there, all you’re worried about is who is in that box,” said Vieaux

So far, Vieaux has allowed one earned run in four innings of work, across four appearances, with the run coming in his follow-up appearance to the June 24th outing. In this brief time, he has a 7:1 K/BB ratio.

The effectiveness of the slider, and his new comfort in a single inning frame could allow Vieaux to work his way into a longer-term role with the Pirates, who could use a reliable lefty in the bullpen.

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Tim is the owner, producer, editor, and lead writer of PiratesProspects.com. He has been running Pirates Prospects since 2009, becoming the first new media reporter and outlet covering the Pirates at the MLB level in 2011 and 2012. His work can also be found in Baseball America, where he has been a contributor since 2014 and the Pirates' correspondent since 2019.

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1979andCounting

Unfortunately this didn’t age well. Gotta follow-up to see if he had any swing and misses amongst his 56 thrown. This was a gut punch to his confidence, it was as if he was throwing BP to Brew Crew.

ricramer

Good to see him having success.

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