There’s an old adage in baseball that a sinkerball sinks more when a pitcher is a little tired. That’s why Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez joked Tuesday afternoon that maybe he should start running Venters back out there four and five days a week so he can be “Everyday Jonny” again.
Venters has struggled some lately with the action on his sinking fastball, and it cost him two runs and a loss Monday night against the Reds. He has allowed runs in two of his past three outings, including his first home run of the season on Friday night in St. Louis – albeit to the hot-hitting Carlos Beltran.
Jokes aside, though, Gonzalez said it was something he and pitching coach Roger McDowell discussed after Monday’s game. Venters has had to make an adjustment not pitching as often as he did last year. He’s actually thrown some bullpen sessions this season to stay sharp, something he never did a year ago unless he needed to work on something specifically.
Venters had thrown in 22 games through May 14 last year, with an 0.81 ERA. Through May 14 this year, he’s thrown in 15 games, and has a 3.29 ERA. Venters took 10 days off in spring training to rest soreness near his right shoulder, and he took a few days earlier this month with a sore shoulder. But Venters said after Monday’s game, the problem isn’t physical, it’s location.
“My arm feels great,” Venters said. “…I’ve just got to do a better job of going out there and attacking guys. I’m making a lot of non-competitive pitches, pitches that guys aren’t even thinking about offering at. And I’m making even worse pitches over the plate and they’re hitting the ball hard. I’ve got to do a better job of keeping the ball down and throwing some strikes early in the count.”
Gonzalez said he’s not overly concerned.
“Jonny’s a (heck) of a pitcher, and he’s fine,” Gonzalez said. “It’s just one of those things.”
David O’Brien contributed information to this report.