Casey Janssen rolled his eyes and laughed a little on Friday night. The reason? Someone brought up the fact that when he struck out Boston’s Kevin Youkilis in the seventh inning, that was Janssen’s first strikeout since returning to the Jays — only took 12.1 innings.
“Geez. I didn’t think I was ever
going to get one,” Janssen said with a smile. “My game is pitch to contact. It was nice to get those at the end, but I still have to pitch my game.”
For those of you who were following my in-game updates on Twitter, I mentioned that Janssen has been taking pitching to contact to new heights since coming back to the rotation. In his two outings, Janssen has thrown 186 pitches, including 117 for strikes. Among all those tosses, he’s only created seven missed swings.
Along the way, Janssen has allowed 19 hits over 13 innings with two strikeouts and two walks.
I stopped over by Janssen’s locker this morning to chat with him some about his style. He’s never been a strikeout pitcher — I first covered the righty when he was with Class A Lansing in 2005, when I was still at Michigan State. Pitching to contact is his game, but he admits he needs to improve on his missed swings.
“I’d definitely like to get better,” Janssen said. “But, my game is more about missing barrels than missing bats.”
Why the low amount of missed swings? Well, for one, Janssen doesn’t boast a go-to “out pitch.” It varies based on the type of hitter, and how he reached the point in the at-bat when a strikeout is an option.
“A lot of my game depends how I get there,” Janssen said. “If I do something away, my out pitch might be an in pitch for that hitter, and vice versa. If I’m working in, maybe I can spin something down and away.”
Janssen has five pitches: four-seam fastball, cutter, changeup, curveball and slider. When he was in the bullpen (he served as the setup man in ’07 and had 39 Ks in 72.2 IP), Janssen didn’t use his change or curve as much. Now, he has a larger arsenal to work with and he’s still working on regaining the type of command he’d like to have.
Janssen said that his cutter might be more of an out pitch against left-handed hitters, while he uses it more to create weak contact against righties. With a right-hander in the batter’s box, Janssen might turn to the slider to get a strikeout, whereas it is used more for weak contact against lefties. He’s also throwing more changeups to both lefties and righties.
Over his first two starts, Janssen said the main issue has he’s been “hitting too much white”. He hasn’t commanded his pitches like he wants to, and he’s fallen behind in counts as a result. When that happens, he can’t expand the strike zone, meaning hitters will inevitably make more contact.
PHOTO OF THE NIGHT FROM FRIDAY:
Catcher Rod Barajas, after scoring from first base in the fifth
Said Barajas: “I didn’t slide, I fell. That was my legs giving out on me. I had nothing left. If I had to run 10 more feet, the paramedics would’ve been out there giving me mouth to mouth. I hit the wall. Fortunately, it was enough to get me over the plate.”
1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. Kevin Youkilis, 1B
4. Jason Bay, LF
5. Mike Lowell, 3B
6. David Ortiz, DH
7. Jason Varitek, C
8. Rocco Baldelli, RF
9. Nick Green, SS
Starter: RHP Brad Penny (5-1)
1. Marco Scutaro, SS
2. Aaron Hill, 2B
3. Alex Rios, RF
4. Vernon Wells, CF
5. Adam Lind, DH
6. Jose Bautista, 3B
7. Lyle Overbay, 1B
8. Raul Chavez, C
9. Joe Inglett, LF
Starter: RHP Brian Tallet (2-3)
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