Nate Jones Looking To Further Improve Four-Seam Fastball With Dodgers

The Los Angeles Dodgers bolstered their pitching depth earlier this month with the signing of veteran reliever Nate Jones to a Minor League contract.

The 35-year-old was designated for assignment by the Atlanta Braves after going 0-2 with a 3.48 ERA and 1.74 WHIP in 12 appearances.

Jones perhaps is best known for his time with the Chicago White Sox (2012-19), where he established himself as one of the league’s better setup men. His previous success made him attractive to a slew of teams in addition to the Dodgers.

“We had a couple other teams involved, but the Dodgers seemed most enthusiastic and literally said, ‘We want you to be a part of this team,'” Jones said.

“That means a lot, too, when a team cares about you, have done the research, know who you are and what I bring to the table. It made it an easy decision at that point.”

Jones’ struggles with the Braves stemmed from poor command, as he walked more batters (14 total, four intentional) than strikeouts (seven). His 8.7 walks per nine innings represented the worst mark of his career.

“Well, I don’t think it was too awful. I’m not sure how many intentional walks I had there. I think that kind of put my walks up,” Jones noted. “We’re learning stuff every day. Like I said, I’m excited to be here, I’m excited with what the Dodgers have to say and have to teach me.

“That’s the thing about baseball. There’s something new you can learn every day.”

Jones’ go-to pitch once was his two-seam fastball, but he has since shifted away from it in favor a four-seam heater. “For all my career I was most comfortable down in the zone. So when you start throwing a four-seam, I think all vertical and ride on it, so it plays a lot better at the top of the zone,” he said.

“Coming into Spring Training with the Braves, that was something we worked on and tried to get as comfortable as I could before the season started. It’s just keep evolving as a pitcher, keep learning, watching hitters and how they react to that.

“Because it’s not my best strength, per se, but it’s something I’m learning about and learning how the hitters swing at it. What it means where they foul it off and all that good stuff, and what I need to do on the next pitch.”

Jones explained he made the change from the advice of the Braves’ analytical department. “My mechanics are different, that’s for sure. But I leave all the numbers stuff to the guys that understand it more than I do,” he said. “They just tell me it’s good, and I play off of that.”

Jones’ role with Dodgers

Jones made his Dodgers debut in last Friday’s series opener against the San Francisco Giants, retiring all five batters faced and notching two strikeouts. He had been given prior notice of likely appearing late in the game, but expects to learn more about a role moving forward.

“I’m sure we’re going to go over expectations, maybe even daily. As far as my role, I’m willing to do whatever it takes to win, that’s for sure,” he said.

Have you subscribed to the Dodger Blue YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, participate in our shows and giveaways, and more!