CLEVELAND -- Frank Herrmann has been searching for a way to be consistently effective against left-handed hitters. The Indians reliever has been experimenting with a curveball for fewer than two weeks, but he already thinks he may have found an answer.
"It's a better pitch than my slider with the way it spins and the way it looks out of my hand," Herrmann said. "Yeah, I've only been throwing it for about two weeks and I've been throwing my slider for four years, but I feel more comfortable throwing this.
"I feel like this is a second weapon for me."
A few weeks ago, when Herrmann and fellow Indians reliever Cody Allen were both in the Triple-A Columbus bullpen, Allen showed the right-hander how he gripped his spike curve. Herrmann toyed around with the pitch in bullpen sessions and immediately found a comfort level with the new offering.
The main issue Herrmann has faced is having an equalizing pitch against lefties. In 40 games for Cleveland last season, left-handed hitters posted a .386 average (1.036 OPS) against Herrmann, compared to a .223 average (.596 OPS) by righties.
Herrmann, 28, features a strong fastball which routinely registers around 94-96 mph, and the right-hander also has a splitter to go along with his slider. His hope is that the spike curve -- a pitch roughly 12-13 mph slower than his heater -- can develop into his primary secondary option.
Indians interim pitching coach Ruben Niebla, who spent most of this season as Columbus' pitching coach, believes the curve can indeed be good for Herrmann.
"I knew that he was lacking something for left-handed hitters," Niebla said. "Something that they could possibly put on the ground and disrupt the timing of his fastball. He's got a great fastball -- we all know that -- one of the best in the Major Leagues. We just needed to get hitters off that.
"[The curve] is a pretty good pitch. Hopefully he gets an opportunity to get in there and throw it. It's a new pitch, but I think it could take his career to the next level."