Emmet Sheehan has been a pleasant surprise for a Los Angeles Dodgers starting rotation that is in need of both consistent production and innings pitched.
Sheehan had gone at least five innings with three runs or fewer in each of his first three outings. However, on Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the rookie pitched just 3.2 innings while giving up five earned runs.
“He got the first guys out and from that point on there were some walks and he just couldn’t find the strike zone,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.
“When you get behind and you’re going at them with the fastball, and it’s middle of the zone, those are good pitches to hit. If you can sequence and get ahead, then the fastball plays up. Tonight he was working behind all night long.”
Sheehan ended up walking four hitters, which was two more than he’s had in any of his previous starts. Sheehan also limited free passes well in the Minor Leagues, which made it an uncharacteristic outing for him.
“I think I just got out of my mechanics on a few pitches and stuff started to kind of tumble,” Sheehan explained. “But after that, I felt like I made some pitches.”
Falling out of rhythm with his mechanics is an issue he’s dealt with before, as most pitchers have, but it usually comes in shorter stints. On Tuesday, Sheehan just wasn’t able to make all the adjustments needed.
“I think every game there’s going to be pitches where you don’t feel completely synced up,” he said. “I think it was just more than I wanted today, and I didn’t really adjust to it the way I should have.”
The right-hander’s fastball is his calling card, which Roberts previously described as a “unique” pitch that induces a lot of swing and miss, but Sheehan acknowledged his heater and secondary pitches may have been less effective because of the issues with his mechanics.
“I think it’s kind of all of them,” Sheehan said. “You like to be synced up and feel the same on every pitch. Definitely have stuff to work on this week.”
Fortunately for Sheehan, he believes his mechanics progressively improved throughout his outing, which gives him a good starting point when he addresses them before his next start.
“I feel like I made a couple good adjustments and found some ways out of it,” he said. “So got some good blocks to work on this week.”
Emmet Sheehan put Dodgers in difficult position
With his short outing and the Dodgers bullpen not at full strength for the night, Sheehan put the team in a difficult position to navigate the rest of the game. “It’s tough,” Roberts admitted.
“Emmet wasn’t sharp tonight with the walks and getting behind, not being able to go deep into a game. When you’ve got to use Ferguson in the fourth inning to try to minimize damage, certainly the margin for error is minimized. We did the best we could and we got to a position to win the game. It just didn’t happen.”
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