Checking radar gun readings no longer in Felix Doubront’s repertoire
|05.21.13 at 12:07 pm ET|
CHICAGO – Felix Doubront has changed his ways – no more peaking at the radar gun readings.
“Before I did when I was trying to throw harder when I was throwing 91 (mph) and (velocity) wasn’t there,” said Tuesday night’s Red Sox starter. “But now I’m not worried about it. I stopped looking at it. Before I as looking a lot and I would see 90 and I would have to forget about it. But Thursday (his last start) there was just a couple of times I looked, and it was for changeups to see if I threw it too hard. Not the fastball. I’m not focused on that.”
Much has been made of Doubront’s dip in velocity. He has hit 94 mph just three times this season after reaching the number 493 times a year ago.
But the lefty has had an awakening.
Doubront is fifth among major league starters in strikeouts per nine innings (10.13). But what truly feeds the hurler’s new mindset is the fact that 30 of his 42 punch-outs have come on his fastball, even with the decreased heat.
“I was watching [Toronto starter Mark] Buehrle and I realized I don’t need 95. Nice changeup. Nice curveball. Nice cutter. Whatever. Just to get them out,” Doubront said.
“Everybody knows I’m not throwing 95, but it can seem like that because of the other stuff. Like (last) Thursday, there were a lot of guys who were looking for fastballs and they got a changeup or a breaking ball. Then the next at-bat they were looking for breaking balls and they were looking for fastballs. Pitching backwards has helped strikeout more guys.
“I started getting swing and misses and strikeouts and made me realize I can strike guys out like before. I don’t have to overthrow, but I just have to hit the spot.”
Doubront has actually been getting more swings and misses on his fastball than a year ago, with 21 percent of his whiffs coming on the heater compared to 15 percent a year ago. (His overall swing and miss rate is relatively the same this year compared to ’12.)
The understanding has allowed to Doubront to remain in elite company when it comes to striking batters out, as was evidenced when six of his seven strikeouts against Tampa Bay last week came on fastballs.
“It’s not like I’m looking to strikeout every batter,” he said. “It just happens I’m throwing the right pitch. I’m not throwing hard right now, but I still get swings and misses.I put (velocity0 out of my mind. I don’t have 95 or 96 yet. I’m just going to pitch with my stuff. “
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