As a pitcher, it is important to throw strikes. After all, throwing a strike, or getting the ball close enough to the strike zone where a batter swings at it, is at the core of what a pitcher is supposed to do. However, at least for Felipe Paulino, that is something that he feels he needs to do less.
Paulino came to this determination, in part, due to his performance yesterday against the San Francisco Giants. Paulino had several 0-2 counts where he intended to throw the ball in the dirt, but caught more of the strike zone than he desired.
“When I got the guy ahead in the count, I had a little problem throwing the ball in the dirt,” said Paulino. “That’s supposed to be easy for me, but I throw too many strikes”
Here is a classic example of command versus control. While Felipe Paulino has exhibited solid control thus far in Spring Training, walking only two batters in 8.1 innings of work, he has not been able to command the ball. Paulino has been throwing strikes, but they have been hittable pitches, as evidenced by the 17 hits that he has allowed, leading directly to a 9.72 ERA thus far.
If there are any positives to take from Paulino’s performance thus far, it would be that he knows exactly what he needs to change. Instead of working within the strike zone as much as he has been, Paulino knows that he needs to expand the zone. Perhaps by placing the ball a few inches out of the zone on an 0-2 or 1-2 count, he may get the hitter to chase, resulting in a weak out or a strikeout.
More often than not, when a pitcher is struggling, the focus turns to whether or not the pitcher is able to control the ball. Command is often overlooked, unless the pitcher is throwing the ball right down the center of the plate. Yet, in this case, Paulino’s problems are a direct result of that inability to command the ball. He is throwing strikes, but they are not always quality strikes.
Felipe Paulino has had flashes of success, particularly during his time with the Kansas City Royals, when he was 7-7 with a 3.55 ERA and a 1.337 WHiP in parts of two seasons. If he can get his command down where he can spot the ball wherever he wants, Paulino could turn into a nice middle of the rotation piece for the White Sox.