FanShot

David Aardsma improves season by throwing fewer fastballs

1

Per Geoff Baker ------------------------------------ After a disappointing first half to this season, Mariners closer David Aardsma was called in for a chat with his boss. Former manager Don Wakamatsu asked Aardsma to look deep within himself to figure out whether he was doing all he could to remain an elite level closer. When Aardsma replied that he wasn't, the two men broke down all the elements of his outings and determined Aardsma needed to throw his fastball less often. "I was throwing a lot of fastballs," said Aardsma, who threw a major-league high 87 percent fastballs last year, but is now down to 77 percent and using his splitter and slider more. "I was trying to attack guys with fastballs and trying to beat them with fastballs constantly when I have several other pitches that can be successful. And make my fastball better." ..... On Sunday, Aardsma got his 31st save in 36 opportunities with two weeks left. Last year, he had 38 saves in 42 chances, meaning he's blown only one more save this season despite his admittedly poor first half. "Every day, after I get done throwing, I throw a bunch of off-speed stuff," Aardsma said. "And then, I get in the game and it's like 'Oh my god, I'm throwing more strikes with it and I've got better stuff. Why didn't I do that all year?' " But the game, he said, is about making continuous adjustments. Aardsma felt too many hitters were sitting back waiting on his fastball, to the point where they could foul off even his best strikeout pitches. "If I didn't make that adjustment, I might not have been around too much longer," he said. ------------------------------------

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