Sinkerball pitchers are typically low-walk and low-strikeout pitchers. They want hitters to swing and pound that sinking fastball into the dirt.
Rick Porcello’s been a little different than most contact pitchers since he arrived last season.
In 2015 Porcello had his highest strikeout average in his career, nearly logging eight per nine innings pitched. That was in part because his fastball had bumped up from 2014 with Detroit, occasionally hitting 95 mph.
However, he’d gotten away from his bread and butter -- his movement. It wasn’t until his 15-day stint on the DL last August that he realized he needed to make an adjustment.
“I was really focused when I came off the DL last year on getting my sinker going again, be under control, locate. Get back to doing the things that I was doing the previous year that was working for me.”
After realizing he’d strayed from the pitcher he was, Porcello identified he needed to change the tempo of his delivery. It’s clear that taking a little off his delivery has been the pivotal adjustment since he came back from his late-season injury.
“I was making a conscious effort to slow things down, and locate the fastball, and go from there,” Porcello said.
However, Porcello’s back to striking hitters out again, almost averaging 10 K’s every nine innings.
But that hasn’t been a bad thing this time around. And he claims it isn’t completely deliberate -- and that he’s still trying to force contact.
“That’s really been my approach my entire career,” Porcello said. “I’ve never been a strikeout pitcher. When we get to two strikes then we’ll take our shots. It’s really more mixing speeds, changing eye levels and just trying to induce contact to get quick outs. That’s always been our focus and all we’re trying to do.”
While he’s enjoyed punching hitters out better than he ever as -- coupled with positive results -- he doesn’t expect the strikeout rate to maintain.
“Right now we’re happy to generate more strikeouts,” he explained. “But it’s not always going to be like that – that’s just the way it’s gone so far. So I try not to get caught up in that and focus on locating pitches. Whatever happens when I let go of the ball is out of my control. It’s kind of a product of what we’ve been doing thus far, but it hasn’t been our focus.”
John Farrell’s also made mention that the righty is in a good place mentally, and that focusing on the moment -- one pitch at a time -- has been huge.
Porcello explained that he’s always had that mental approach. He also noted that his mentality towards this season has been positive since the start -- and he plans to keep it that way.
“I’m confident and I felt like coming to the season I was in a good place,” Porcello said. “I was trying to ride that out and continue to do so. April’s behind us and there’s a lot of baseball to be played. I need to continue to get better and I need to continue to keep giving us a chance to win and throw the ball the way I’ve been throwing it.”