A's help Muller change key part of his game after 2023 struggles

A's help Muller change key part of his game after 2023 struggles originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

Kyle Muller had a rough 2023 MLB season for the struggling Athletics, but it might have been because of one particular area of his game.

The 6-foot-7, 250-pound pitcher recently shared how he corrected his delivery over the offseason with Oakland, which was on display in his start against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday.

“I’d be the first to say that last year was a bad year and nothing I expected,” Muller said (h/t’s Martín Gallegos). “If I make the adjustments that seem to be working and get back to being the guy Oakland traded for, I know when I’m at the top of my game, I’m pretty good. I just want to get back to being that guy. Wherever they want me to be, I’ll go throw.”

Muller revamped his delivery this offseason by raising his arm slot and adjusting his windup rotation "from east-to-west to more of a north-to-south motion," per Gallegos -- a change suggested by the A's baseball operations department.

The 26-year-old finished last season with a 7.60 ERA across 77.0 innings pitched. He started 13 of 21 appearances and was the A’s 2023 Opening Day starter, ultimately finishing with a 1-5 record.

Muller wants to return to his 2022 form when he was the No. 1 prospect in the Atlanta Braves minor league system. A’s manager Mark Kotsay believes Muller’s doing all the right things to return to that point.

“Our baseball ops group and Kyle were in contact starting in November,” Kotsay said (h/t Gallegos). “There was some arm angle difference for Kyle last year. I think he’s really worked hard on getting back to the slot he was in, and has a lot of confidence in that right now, so it’s exciting to see what it looks like.

“Every bullpen he’s thrown, all the numbers have been more in line with the numbers from [2022], both velocity and fastball efficiency.”

Muller had a solid outing against the Dodgers on Sunday at Camelback Ranch, tossing three strikeouts in two innings of a one-run game. He displayed positive adjustments to his delivery with more downhill action over a variety of pitches, according to Kotsay.

“I’m getting behind the ball a lot better,” Muller said. “I was very pleased with the fastball… I think I got more swing-and-misses on my fastball [Sunday] than I did in any game last year, so that’s encouraging.”

His performance was timely. Muller’s spring training is crucial since he’s ineligible to play in the minors and can only play at the big league level.

“It’s definitely different,” Muller said. “The only options you have are either to be on the team or go somewhere else. But I want to be here. I want to be with this team, with all these guys… I want to be here and help this team win.”

Muller is pitching with his career on the line ahead of the 2024 season, hoping to help his teammates win more than 50 games.

He’s off to a good start since improving his pitching delivery.