Detroit Tigers reliever Mason Englert boosts his velocity after adjusting his plan

Detroit Free Press

ARLINGTON, Texas — The Detroit Tigers were worried two weeks ago about right-handed reliever Mason Englert.

A significant decline in fastball velocity, around 89 mph compared to 93 mph in spring training, had the Tigers wondering about arm fatigue. The 23-year-old didn’t pitch for six days and bounced back with better performances, a bit closer to what the Tigers saw in spring training.

“Workload things,” Englert, a Rule 5 draft pick from the Texas Rangers, said this week. “I’ve never come out of the bullpen, so I didn’t understand how to throw between outings. … We made adjustments to my throwing program.”

Englert has a 4.73 ERA with 14 walks and 35 strikeouts in 45⅔ innings across 26 relief appearances this season, with 11 home runs allowed. He gave up two runs on three hits and one walk with seven strikeouts in his past three outings.

His fastball averaged 91.3 mph Friday against the Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park, then 91.2 mph Monday against the Rangers at Globe Life Field. He threw more changeups than fastballs in both appearances.

Englert completed 2⅓ innings and allowed one run in Monday’s 7-2 win against the Rangers, helping bridge the gap to the late innings after Matthew Boyd’s season-ending elbow injury and Will Vest’s knee injury.

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He pitched in Thursday’s 8-5 win over the Rangers, as well, but he gave up another home run. The home runs are an issue related to Englert’s below-average fastball, with opponents hitting fastballs for seven of the 11 homers.

“I wasn’t quite sure how to handle how much or what intensity I should be throwing between outings,” Englert said. “I’m working with Robin (Lund, assistant pitching coach), and I’m wearing this sensor to take data.

“I was thinking I needed to be fresh because I was throwing more often in games, and it actually kind of hurt my overall workload and fitness level for throwing. I wasn’t bouncing back well because I was putting myself in a hole.”

The trip to Texas also connected Englert with David Clyde before Tuesday’s game.

For 45 years, Clyde held the all-time Texas high school record for consecutive scoreless innings. The Rangers selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1973 draft out of Westchester High School.

Clyde, who had nine no-hitters in his high school career, pitched in the big leagues just 12 days after his final high school outing because the Rangers wanted to sell tickets. Nearly 36,000 fans attended his MLB debut at Arlington Stadium.

“I think my head would have blown up,” Englert said. “I feel comfortable now, but if I was 18 (years old), I would have felt like it was too much.”

In 2018, Englert broke Clyde’s record with 55⅓ scoreless innings in a row. The Rangers selected him in the fourth round with the No. 119 overall pick in the 2018 draft out of Forney High School.

“I’ve never talked to him before,” Englert said.

Less than a year later, Johnnie Krawietz broke Englert’s record and extended his streak to 58 scoreless innings. He went from Canton High School to Abilene Christian to continue his baseball career.

Krawietz, who doesn’t play baseball anymore, still holds the state record.

Englert is trying to hang around at the highest level as a Rule 5 draft pick, meaning the Tigers can’t remove him from the active roster and send him down to Triple-A Toledo. There will be ups and downs along the way in his rookie season.

Despite struggles in the past, Englert was excellent in Monday’s win against the Rangers, his hometown team and former team. He has learned important lessons throughout the first half of the season.

“I felt really good,” Englert said. “I made some adjustments, outing-to-outing throwing, that’s been helping me bounce back. … I upped the intensity, added volume, and now, I’m bouncing back better. I’m actually doing more throwing, so I keep my fitness level higher than it was.”

Contact Evan Petzold at or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

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