For as much of a bright spot as the Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen has been this season, it’s also to blame for a handful of the team’s eight losses. J.P. Howell knows his issue so far this season and has been working on a solution.
In 5.1 innings pitched thus far, the left-hander has allowed nine hits but only surrendered one earned run and issued two walks. Howell recently discussed what he’s in search of to continue giving batters a hard time, via Eno Sarris of Fangraphs:
I gotta chop and screw it up, I gotta make the ball dance, I gotta read hitters, I gotta figure it out, I gotta know the best odds for me to win in that situation,” said the frenetic lefty.
The demands of focusing on the movement and deception of a pitch is also mentally exhausting, Howell added:
That’s the worst part, is always having to focus, I can’t just go out and out-talent you. I have to slow down and pay attention. It’s not always relaxing and fun, like some of these guys make it look.”
Last season Howell threw a career-high 68 percent fastballs, a career-low 0.9% changeups and posted a 2.39 ERA. This season, however, Howell has thrown the fastball 62 percent of the time and increased his changeup usage to 4.9 percent, leading to a 1.69 ERA.
Howell is looking to bounce back from a disappointing close to the 2014 season that he believed was a result of being rested too much. He hasn’t thrown more than one inning in any of his nine relief appearances and three times has appeared in back-to-back games, throwing more than 0.2 of an inning once in those six games.
Howell last pitched April 28 against the San Francisco Giants in the eighth inning and only managed to record one out while giving up two base hits.
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