TRENTON, NJ - After a torn oblique injury paired with an undiagnosed rib injury kept him off the…
Burawa Trusting Himself
After the break, all the inconsistencies disappeared. From July 11 until the end of the season, and including the playoffs, he pitched 27.1 innings in relief, struck out 29 batters, and gave up only one earned run.
"The biggest thing for me was just trusting myself," Burawa said. "At the beginning of the year, I was struggling just to find myself, and kind of towards the middle of the year, I was realizing that I shouldn't be making changes, I should trust myself.
"It's just staying true to the process, believe in what you do, and I just really went all in on the little things that add up."
Mechanically, he's made some changes to his delivery, but those changes go back to his psyche. The less he focuses on being perfect mechanically, the better he pitches.
"For him, it's been about keeping the same arm slot and working from the top of the ball and down through the ball," Trenton pitching coach Tommy Phelps said. "And for him it's about not worrying about being mechanical or getting too many mechanical thoughts.
"Just find the feel and keep executing pitch after pitch. Once he did that he started to be a whole lot more consistent and trusting himself."
One reason that Burawa may have had some doubts early on was because he missed the 2012 season with a torn oblique.
"It's never easy when a guy misses a year," Thunder manager Tony Franklin said. "It takes some time for them to get it together again. A year of being off and missing that competition, that's vital, critical.
"So once he got himself together and going, you see he's pretty good. And everything for him has kind of come together for him in this last month or last third of the season and he's pretty hot and pretty solid."
Burawa is a pitcher who projects to be an eighth-inning guy or a closer. Like many of these pitchers, he possesses a high velocity fastball with a complimentary slider that can fool hitters with ease. However, he credits the development of a solid changeup for helping him when pitching in key situations recently.
"I've actually gotten a few big outs with my changeup," Burawa said. "Two years ago in low single-A and high single-A, it was unheard of because I hadn't thrown a meaningful changeup.
"This year I've been able to throw my changeup, and it's made my fastball and slider better. I believe I can throw my slider in any count too, and [hitters] can't just sit on my fastball."
With those pitches in his arsenal, and his quality of stuff on the mound, he was one of the most reliable options out of the bullpen in any situation. One challenge is coming into a game with runners in scoring position, but his manager tries to give him the best advice possible.
"The one thing I always tell him when he comes in is that the most important guy is standing right at home plate, and he just needs to get that guy," Franklin said. "There may be guys on first and second with this many outs, but the most important guy for him to worry about is the one at home plate.
"Just worry about the guy at home and we'll be just fine. You can't worry about where guys are when they get on base."
At the end of this season, he feels better about himself as a pitcher than he's ever felt before.
"I would say this year is where I have felt most comfortable on the mound," Burawa said. "I feel consistently good every day. I don't know if I'm better now or then, but I feel good when I'm out there.
"I know that I can still improve a ton so I can't really say that I was better then or now, but I'm definitely more comfortable."
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