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Velocity, strikeout rate up for reliever Morris

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Velocity, strikeout rate up for reliever Morris

PITTSBURGH -- Right-hander Bryan Morris has been very effective out of the Pirates' bullpen with a 2-0 record and a 2.00 ERA entering Sunday's game.

Morris' fastball has averaged 95.2 mph this season, up from 94.1 mph last year, and he has also added some sink to the pitch. That has resulted in Morris' strikeout total rising, as he has seven in his first nine innings after having 37 in 65 frames last year for an average of 5.12 per nine innings.

A slight change in mechanics has benefited Morris.

"Early in the spring, we made a slight adjustment with my mechanics and basically we simplified everything," Morris said. "When I simplify everything, everything kind of just started falling in line and that just made it easier for me on the mound. All I had to worry about was going out and throwing the ball in the zone and competing."

Fastball command is the big key for Morris.

"The change helped tremendously with command," Morris said. "I got a little better with my fastball command in Spring Training, and that allowed me to attack with my fastball and then use my other pitches later in the count."

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle has been impressed with what Morris has done so far.

"Increase in velocity, crispness of pitches," Hurdle said. "He's the same guy we were talking about last summer not having strikeouts. I think he's got a big arm and I think it's going to happen; it's maturity, experience. Comfort zone coming back, [and] he's gone through it a little bit. He's faced hitters, he's pitched meaningful innings.

"[Morris'] confidence is up, and he got in a good place with whatever glitches he might have felt he had. The delivery is clean and the fastball command has improved. There is more velocity, and there is definitely more tilt and break in the cutter, slider. He's been very good."

George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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