TROY, NY (NEWS10) — The Tri-City ValleyCats entered the all-star break with a record of 28-29. Since then? They’re 15-5, now nine games above .500. While their strength lies with their bats, the improvement of their pitching is what’s pushing them over the top.

The ValleyCats entered the all-star break with an ERA of 6.64. At that point, they let go of pitching coach Scott Buddner. They’ve since seen a modest improvement, with their ERA down to 6.07, giving up about 5 runs per game since break.

A big reason for the improvement: pitching coach Joe Gannon, who was with the team last year and joined the team toward the end of the first half of this season. “He just has a great rapport with our pitching staff,” said manager Pete Incaviglia. “He cares, he gets involved he loves the kids. He’s in it for the right reasons and he deserves a lot of the credit for the turn around in our pitching staff.”

The ValleyCats aren’t the only team that has dealt with pitching woes this season. The average ERA in the Frontier League is 5.17.

Incaviglia doesn’t claim to have all the answers, but he points to an emphasis on increased velocity during the COVID shutdown as one reason we’re seeing an increase in runs allowed. “When I look at a player who is available, you look at their pre-COVID numbers and they’re walking one, two, two and a half per nine innings and now when I look at them post-COVID, they’re walking anywhere from seven to eight to nine runners,” said Incaviglia. ” I think that Major League Baseball has got all these pitchers thinking that if they can increase their velocity and throw 98 they’re going to get signed, but you still have to be able to throw strikes.”