Clay Buchholz continues work to fine-tune high fastball

Clay Buchholz continues work to fine-tune high fastball

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Clay Buchholz is continuing to refine his latest weapon in the battle to get batters to swing and miss -- the high fastball.

Buchholz struck out six in 3 1/3 innings of work against the Yankees on Friday. He gave up four hits, including a three-run homer to Chase Headley in the first inning, but he also showed he can sit batters down if he can keep his four-seamer high and out of danger.

"I started [throwing high fastballs] last year and I don't know why it took me 10 or 11 years to figure out that could help but it did," Buchholz said. "It's one of those things to where if you don't get it up there high enough, it's an easy pitch to hit. You have to make sure that you set your target high above the belt and at the letters and try to make it a pitch that's good enough to offer at."

The pitch that Headley took deep over the right-field wall wasn't a high fastball but rather a breaking ball that caught too much of the plate.

"Yeah, it was the one pitch I didn't quite get it where I wanted it to and it was a homer," Buchholz said. "I've faced a pretty big group of those guys throughout my career ... if you don't make your pitches against the veterans in that group, they will make you pay."

Buchholz started the game by using the high fastball to retire Aaron Hicks swinging and slowed things down to get Gary Sanchez with a 78-mph breaking ball off the plate. Greg Bird was able to reach for a first-pitch fastball and get a single to shallow right field and Matt Holliday walked on four straight pitches to set the table for Headley, who took the breaking ball right over the 330-foot sign in right field.

But Buchholz was able to bounce back and get Headley with the high fastball the second time he faced him.

All of Buchholz's strikeouts were swing-and-misses.

"It's good when you're getting swings-and-misses against a team that doesn't have a lot of free-swinging guys," Buchholz said. "And they can be dangerous if you aren't in command of your pitches. Getting strike one and getting them in a swing mode is key to getting quick at-bats and not letting them stay out there and see more pitches."

Buchholz said he began tinkering with the placement of the pitch to try to get batters to climb the ladder when his sinker wasn't effective. And now he's focused on trying to control both pitches to force batters to adjust their eye levels.

"I've been a sinker-ball guy my whole career," Buchholz said. "You don't want to throw sinkers up, you want to throw them down. So, whenever the sinker started getting hit we had to switch it up a little bit, so we went back to four seams and it's working."

Today's lineup: Tommy Joseph returns to lineup for Game 1

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Today's lineup: Tommy Joseph returns to lineup for Game 1

The Phillies' return from the West Coast will also include the return of Tommy Joseph to the lineup in Game 1 of their doubleheader against the Marlins.

Joseph, mired in a 5 for 56 slump, will be in the lineup after sitting the last two games against the Giants. For some strange reason, the right-handed Joseph has struggled mightily against left-handed pitching. He's hitting just .185 against southpaws this season vs. .254 against righties. Joseph will play first and bat fifth.

What will excite Phillies fans tonight is the three and four hitters. Rookies Nick Williams and Rhys Hoskins will bat in the three-hole and cleanup spot, respectively. Williams has struggled a little bit since his torrid start. He has just one extra-base hit in his last 42 at-bats. He'll start in center field while Odubel Herrera continues to nurse a hamstring injury.

Hoskins returns from his native California red hot. After getting just one hit in his first big league series against the Mets, Hoskins did some serious damage out west. The 24-year-old went 8 for 25 (.320) with five homers and eight RBIs during the seven-game swing. He'll get the nod yet again left.

Newcomer Hyun Soo Kim will fill out the outfield, playing right and batting sixth. Kim is just 5 for 33 since coming over from Baltimore in the Jeremy Hellickson trade.

Here is the rest of the lineup for Game 1:
1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Nick Williams, CF
4. Rhys Hoskins, LF
5. Tommy Joseph, 1B
6. Hyun Soo Kim, RF
7. Maikel Franco, 3B
8. Cameron Rupp, C
9. Aaron Nola, P

And here's how the Marlins will line up against Nola:
1. Dee Gordon, 2B
2. Giancarlo Stanton, RF
3. Christian Yelich, CF
4. Marcell Ozuna, LF
5. J.T. Realmuto, C
6. Derek Dietrich, 3B
7. Tomas Telis, 1B
8. Miguel Rojas, SS
9. Dan Straily, P

Phillies place Vince Velasquez on 60-day DL; call up reliever Yacksel Rios

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Phillies place Vince Velasquez on 60-day DL; call up reliever Yacksel Rios

The Phillies have made a flurry of moves ahead of Tuesday's doubleheader vs. the Marlins.

Vince Velasquez (finger) is heading to the 60-day disabled list, effectively ending his season. He'll have surgery to repair a vascular issue with his right middle finger, according to MLB.com's Todd Zolecki.

Velasquez left his last start after just one inning on August 10 while surrendering three runs.

In 15 starts, Velasquez compiled a 5.13 ERA, while continuing to struggle with his command. The 25-year-old struck out 68 batters while walking 34 and averaged just 4.8 innings per start. 

In a corresponding move, the Phillies have called up RHP Yacksel Rios from Triple A to replace Velasquez on the 40-man roster. The 24-year-old has a combined 1.92 ERA in 37 games while splitting time between Reading and Lehigh Valley. 

Nick Pivetta was officially recalled from the minors to start Game 2 of today's doubleheader, while Zach Eflin (shoulder) was placed on the 10-day disabled list retroactive to Saturday.