During spring training, Nationals closer Rafael Soriano fiddled with a new pitch and he is considering adding it to his repertoire this season. However, he is coy about it and won’t commit to how much he will use it. He does admit that his aunt’s husband, who played baseball, showed him a new grip this winter in his native Dominican Republic. And when he threw it this way, the ball behaved similar to a sinker. “I started throwing it like that,” he said. “It felt good. It’s a fastball but it moves differently.” Soriano said he also threw a change-up in spring training. He said he the last time he threw a change-up was during his Seattle Mariner days, when he was last a starter in the majors in 2002. The 34-year-old closer ditched the pitch when he became a reliever. But this spring, in which he allowed nine runs in 5 2/3 innings, Soriano used both. He wouldn’t say if either will be used in the regular season. According to Pitchf/x data, Soriano threw a two-seam fastball in the last two seasons, but he said the sinker-like fastball would be a new pitch. He said it moves down and away from left-handed batters. “I don’t know how I’m going to use it,” he said. “If I’m going to throw it, I’m not going to say. If I am going to throw a new pitch that they haven’t seen, I’ll stay quiet and not saying anything. If it works, I should use it. If not, no. If it works, why not? It’s another pitch.” Either pitch could help Soriano against left-handed batters, breaking down and away from the hitters. Last season, left-handed batters hit .274 with a .785 OPS against Soriano. In his career, left-handers hit .237 with a .713 OPS against him. The biggest reason for those struggles, Soriano said, was his troublesome slider.
Rafael Soriano working on new pitches
Washington Post | Apr 2