Mariners relief pitcher Danny Farquhar made his major league debut at Fenway Park while playing for the Blue Jays on Sept. 13, 2011. He gave up four runs — three earned — on three hits and two walks and was sporting an ERA of 40.50 by the time his two-thirds of an inning were done.
Last night went a little better for him. Farquhar tossed three scoreless innings and struck out four batters. And a big key to that, he said, was throwing inside to hitters.
“I’m a guy that, (throwing) away is a very safe part of the zone,” Farquhar said. “But if you live away, they are going to hit you hard. They’re just going to sit away.”
Farquhar said he and 41-year-old catcher Henry Blanco had “a good talk” about the value of throwing inside more often.
“He was like ‘Man, with your stuff you need to start pounding hitters in’,” said Farquhar, who had been going through a rough patch at the time. “And I really took it to heart and started applying it. I think a lot of my success is due to Henry talking to me.”
I asked Farquhar whether he’d been throwing in on hitters before and had maybe just forgotten? Or, whether this truly is a new element to his game.
“It was mostly just kind of going along with what’s comfortale for me,” he said. “Instead of making a conscious effort to make hitters uncomfortable in the box. But the talk really woke me up.’
Farquhar had already been hearing from pitching coach Carl Willis and bullpen coach Jamie Navarro about using all of his pitches more to keep hitters off-balance. This added one, he said, is merely the latest weapon he has to use to keep hitters off-balance.
The other thing Farquhar says helps him out is when he’s asked to go multiple innings.
“When you do multiple innings it’s almost like being a starter,” he said. “You don’t see any starters in the big leagues with two pitches. Maybe if you’re a one-inning guy you have two pitches. But those two pitches had better be ‘plus’ pitches or you’re in trouble. My three pitches (four-seam fastball, cutter and curve), I think, are solid and I had to use all three of them to get through yesterday.”
Mariners interim manager Robby Thompson said Farquhar has worked harder over the past week or two to get his repertoire working for him and that throwing inside will be a huge improvement.
“For any pitcher — and that goes back 100 years — you have to pitch inside,” he said. “He’d gotten away from that. Even doubling up inside with a four-seamer, or cutting it in to a lefty…it’s just important to back him off the plate and give him something to think about. And once again, that helps out the breaking ball.”
I asked Thompson what he used to do as a hitter to counter pitchers throwing in on him.
“I liked the ball inside,” Thompson said with a laugh. ” I had trouble with the ball away. But yeah, it’s just something you react to as a hitter when it’s inside. It does, it gets you off the plate and it gets you thinking inside and that’s where it opens up the outside of the plate.”
Thompson is resting some veterans tonight after last night’s 15-inning loss to Boston. Raul Ibanez and Michael Morse are both out as is catcher Humberto Quintero, who pretty much learned the majority of his new pitching teammates in one shot last night. Dustin Ackley gets the start in left tonight while Endy Chavez goes to right and Michael Saunders plays center.
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