LOS ANGELES — Brandon Webb had games when he threw his pet two-seam sinking fastball maybe 90 times, sprinkling in a dozen other pitches just to tease. Trevor Cahill has not has taken it that far, but manager Kirk Gibson likes the way Cahill has used the sinker more in recent starts.
Cahill has given up four earned runs and 14 hits in his last 20 innings, winning two starts and leaving another with a no-decision. His 2.80 ERA is 19th in the league, and his 1.16 WHIP — hits and walks per inning — is a near career low.
“The last couple games, it has been mainly two-seamers,” Gibson said. “Just let his ball move. He has a great movement on his ball. Late life. Hard to center. That way, he’s been more consistent with the strike zone. When you walk a guy and then give up a hit, that’s when you really get in trouble.
“I’m not saying he’s exactly like Webb. But he’s doing it more. Before, he’d get ahead of a guy 0-2. Here comes the curve ball, the changeup, the cutter. Now, he is attacking more when he gets ahead in the count. When you do that, guys get more impatient and they are going to swing quicker. You are going to get quicker outs, and the last two games you can see his pitch count has been much more controllable.”
Cahill threw 91 pitches in seven innings of a 9-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday and had only 88 in eight-plus innings in his previous start, a no-decision against San Francisco in which he left with a runner on first base and a 1-0 lead in the ninth.
“I made my pitches when I had to,” Cahill said of Monday’s start, which improved his career record to 5-0 against the Dodgers.
“I think you generally want a guy to come and establish his rhythm and his release point,” Gibson said. “When you have all these different pitches going on, i just think you kind of struggle with that early in the year. He’s got such great movement on the ball that he’s a guy that can pretty much keep it down in the zone and be pretty successful.”