NORMAL — In less than a month, Jack Landwehr has gone from out of Normal’s plans to into the CornBelters’ starting rotation.
A former Illinois State pitcher, Landwehr will make his first start for Normal on Thursday at Southern Illinois.
“I’m really excited to be in the starting rotation,” Landwehr said.
Landwehr was signed by Normal in the offseason but was cut before the May 11 opener.
“We liked him in spring training,” Belters manager Billy Horn said. “He just fills it up, he throws strikes.”
Landwehr was not totally discouraged by not making Normal’s opening roster.
“Billy said the timing wasn’t right, and I’m on the short list (to get called back). He said to be ready,” Landwehr said. “He came calling and the next thing you know I’m throwing four innings the next day.”
It was those four innings last Saturday that convinced Horn to give Landwehr a starting opportunity. The right-hander struck out three and walked none in four scoreless frames.
“I tell these guys it doesn’t matter if you throw 85 (mph), 89 or 95," said Horn. "If you can throw strikes and get ahead you’re going to have success."
The 6-foot-1 Landwehr posted a 4-3 record and a 2.89 ERA in 32 relief appearances for ISU in 2016. He also served as a starter earlier in his Redbird career.
“I’ve got the changeup going a lot more than I did before,” Landwehr said. “I’ve got four pitches working consistently better than I did at ISU. It’s really paid off. I had three go-to pitches at ISU.”
Landwehr admitted to nervousness in his professional debut.
“Of course,” he said. “But after the first pitch, it was like any other time out there. I was pounding the zone and really making hitters get themselves out.”
Belters rained out: Normal’s game at Southern Illinois on Tuesday was postponed because of rain. The Belters and Miners will play a 5:05 p.m. doubleheader at Rent One Park in Marion on Wednesday.
Hitting leaders: Belters catcher Tanner Lubach is tied for the Frontier League lead in RBIs with Joliet’s Justin Garcia at 14. Lubach also is tied for second in home runs with five.
Normal right fielder Derrick Loveless is second in hitting with a .397 average behind only the .413 of Traverse City’s Steve Lohr. Belters shortstop Santiago Chirino is third at .387.
Lawrence with Cubs: Brian Lawrence, Normal’s pitching coach in 2012, is now the pitching coach for South Bend, the Chicago Cubs affiliate in the Class A Midwest League.
Lawrence spent his entire six-year major league career with the San Diego Padres.