Hayden Wesneski is His Own Toughest Critic, But Last Night Was Clearly a Positive Step

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Hayden Wesneski is His Own Toughest Critic, But Last Night Was Clearly a Positive Step

Chicago Cubs

I don’t think anyone is going to be harder on Hayden Wesneski than Hayden Wesneski.

Despite throwing 7.0 innings of one-run ball last night, it was clear after the game that Wesneski wasn’t over-the-moon with his performance.

“Man, I don’t know,” Wesneski said when asked about his confidence building from the outing, per The Athletic. “I feel good about it, but I don’t feel great. Maybe tomorrow I’ll watch it and I’ll feel happier about it. Early I didn’t have the confidence, then the third, fourth inning I started to get into a rhythm, but it still didn’t feel great. The sixth and seventh inning, they got me right where I needed to be. Yes, I feel good but the first couple innings I still didn’t feel like myself. I had to grind through it and we got to this point.”

Wesneski did look his best last night in those later innings. I’m sure there is some value in having worked through feeling off earlier in the game, and eventually getting yourself locked in. Obviously Wesneski didn’t get a chance to do that in his previous start, where he didn’t get through two innings.

Wesneski was glad he had the feel for his slider this time around, something he felt like he was missing in his first two starts. That led to him leaning heavily on the pitch, which the A’s did very little with. But overall, Wesneski still wants to be sharper.

Like Michael mentioned last night, Wesneski got away with some misses in the zone that other teams may punish quite a bit more than the A’s did. It sounded like Wesneski knew the results last night may have been better than his execution (which wasn’t terrible, obviously, but wasn’t yet where he wants to be).

“This is definitely a start you can build on,” Wesneski said. “You see the results, but the other four days you have to figure out what you want to work on and what works for you. It’s one of those things where it worked this time and I’m glad it did. These next four days coming up I’m going to get ready for my start. It’s nice to know, ‘Hey, this is what worked for my last start and this is the work I need to do.’ Those four days make you really consistent throughout a year.”

All good, of course, though it’s worth pointing out that Wesneski did strike out seven, didn’t walk anyone, didn’t give up a ton of hard contact, and allowed just the one run. He got whiffs, he stayed in the strike zone (a 39% CSW is outstanding), and he didn’t get out of rhythm with a big lead. There is some credit due here!

For his part, Wesneski’s catcher wants the young righty to take it a little easier on himself.

“It’s a great thing to be your best critic, an ability to be hard on yourself, but at the same time, we’re in the big leagues,” Yan Gomes said, per the Tribune. “Those are big-league hitters. So you’ve got to give yourself some grace, like understand that there’s a learning curve. They’re going to learn about you. They know you’ve got a phenomenal slider. But at some point, once you start seeing a little bit of improvement, that’s where you get the confidence from …. So just take the positive of every outing. If you keep being so hard on yourself, it’s going to be a long year. It’s good to be criticized and trying to see the ups and downs of an outing, but at the same time, take the good and just roll with it.”

That’s a good catcher right there. Gomes knows there will be ups and downs for a young pitcher like Wesneski, and he can’t afford to get too high or too low, even if it’s a good thing not to rest on good results and assume it means your performance can’t get better. You have to have balance.

Wesneski’s next outing will come against a much tougher Los Angeles Dodgers lineup, so hopefully Wesneski continues to feel good about the slider, and gets locked in mechanically earlier in the game.

Interesting notes here from Lance Brozdowski on Wesneski’s pitch shape last night:

The fastball just isn’t quite getting close to average territory, in terms of Stuff+, and it might prove to be the case that Wesneski will simply have to command the pitch really well, and make sure it pairs with the slider. As for his cutter, it’s interesting that it is getting closer to being a gyro style slider (as opposed to the sweeper style slider he throws), and I wonder if we’ll see more of it.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.