DENVER — Ryan Feltner looks at video of where he was a year ago and grimaces.
His major league debut, which was exactly 365 days ago, went the opposite of how he dreamt it. He gave up a home run on his first pitch and didn't even make it through three innings.
"I didn't even want to watch it," he said. "I didn't think it was that great."
But a year later, Feltner is an improved pitcher, even if the stat box hasn't quite caught up yet. He's not where they need him to be yet — he still gave up four runs on Monday in the Rockies 6-4 loss to the Brewers. Feltner struck out seven though, tied for his career-high, and has had four outings in a row allowing four or fewer runs.
"He's getting better," manager Bud Black said. "He's learning on the fly in the big leagues. For the most part, he's succeeding ... he's a good learner and he has a thirst for information."
His growth can be attributed to two main things. First, he's getting comfortable using his sinker at the bottom of the zone. That frees up the top for his four-seam fastball.
Feltner also changed his slider shape, and now has two that he relies on. For right-handed batters, he uses a slower, sweeping slider that clocks in around 80-84 MPH. His grip is slightly tilted so he can get on the side of the ball, which gives him more action. To left-handed batters, he uses a more traditional slider but shortened it up and increased the velocity on it.
As he experimented with them, he went across the clubhouse to get insight from closer Daniel Bard and outfielder Charlie Blackmon, two of the most experienced players in the clubhouse. Bard himself has spent hours playing around with his own slider, and now uses three shapes.
"I've definitely been picking their brains," Feltner said. "From a veteran standpoint they have a lot to offer."
He still has work to do. Feltner is a little too predictable for hitters, and has trouble when it comes to his second or third time through a lineup. But this is all a part of the learning curve, and, with about five starts left to go, should leave him in a good spot for next season.
"The little tweaks that I've been making with (pitching coach) Darryl (Scott) and Buddy add up over time," Feltner said. "I feel like I'm in a good spot."
Gilbreath done for season
LHP Lucas Gilbreath's sophomore season has come to an end a month early. Gilbreath, dealing with a left flexor strain, had an MRI done last week. It didn't reveal enough damage for surgery, but he will get a PRP shot this week. There will not be enough time for him to make a comeback this season, but he should be able to have close to a normal offseason and be ready for spring training.
Gilbreath ended his second season in the majors with a 4.19 ERA.
Other injury updates
Outfielder Yonathan Daza (dislocated shoulder) is done with his rehab assignment and back with the team. He could be activated as early as Tuesday.
Shortstop José Iglesias, who injured his hand in the first game of Monday's doubleheader, is still sore and swollen. He will have a MRI done on Tuesday.
Outfielder Kris Bryant (plantar fasciitis) is increasing his activity level but still in and out of the walking boot. He is playing catch now, but not hitting. There is still no timeline for his return, and it's still not known if he'll be able to play again this season.