Feb 26, 2013, 6:08 PM EDT
USA Today Sports Images file photo
Ryan Mattheus will be counted on to get left-handed hitters out this year.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Since arriving in the Nationals bullpen during the 2011 season, Ryan Mattheus has proven effective thanks primarily to his ability to throw sinkers down and in to right-handed hitters (down and away to lefties). It’s a formula that’s worked well for Mattheus, who in 101 career appearances owns a 2.84 ERA and only 7.6 hits allowed per nine innings.
But the 29-year-old understands this is a game of adjustments, and the longer he’s in the big leagues, the more opposing hitters will adjust to his pitching patterns.
So Mattheus is making a point this spring to add something new to his repertoire: A sinker on the other corner of the strike zone.
“I mean, that’s the thing I have to attribute all my success so far in the big leagues to: the good sinker,” he said. “But the more times guys start to see me, they’re going to get onto that pattern. So I’m trying to establish more both sides of the plate this year, because I don’t spin the ball very well [throwing breaking balls]. We tried that coming in last year, that experience is over. I’m going to have to command both sides of the plate with the fastball.”
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