Dan Haren and the need to evolve

March, 8, 2012
3/08/12
2:53
PM PT


His results are so consistent in part because his methods are always changing.

Dan Haren broke into the major leagues with the St. Louis Cardinals wielding a mid-90s fastball and one of the most effective split-finger pitches in baseball. As the innings piled up and his velocity began to dip, his search led him to the pitch of this generation, the cutter.

In 2007, Haren barely threw it. By last season, he threw his cutter nearly 50 percent of the time. A lesson he learned from his first major-league pitching coach, Dave Duncan, has stayed with Haren through two new organizations and more than 1,000 innings.

If you're going to miss, miss low.

"You see guys throwing 100 mph getting hit around all over the place," Haren said. "It’s about locating."

He might be the steadiest pitcher of this generation. Haren is the only major league pitcher who has thrown at least 215 innings in seven straight seasons. He is one of three major-league starters, with CC Sabathia and Roy Halladay, who has won at least 12 games in seven straight seasons.

Haren took a good first step by pitching two scoreless innings, striking out three Cleveland Indians, in his Cactus League debut Thursday.

Mark Saxon

ESPNLosAngeles.com
Mark Saxon is a staff writer for ESPNLosAngeles.com. He spent six years at the Orange County Register, and began his career at the Oakland Tribune, where he started an 11-year journey covering Major League Baseball. He has also covered colleges, including USC football and UCLA basketball.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Mike Trout
BA HR RBI R
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OTHER LEADERS
HRM. Trout 22
RBIM. Trout 69
RM. Trout 64
OPSM. Trout 1.007
WG. Richards 11
ERAG. Richards 2.55
SOG. Richards 127