Dan Haren and the need to evolve
March, 8, 2012
By Mark Saxon | ESPNLosAngeles.com
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.