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Felix Doubront is averaging just 90.18 mph
on his fastball through five starts this season.
Ben Whitehead
Contributing Writer

A lot was made of Felix Doubront showing up to Spring Training out of shape and with some soreness in his throwing arm. Here we are nearly three months later and Doubront (and the Red Sox) finally paid the price for his laziness.

Boston fell 7-0 to the Texas Rangers Friday night at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Doubront, who was 3-0 through four starts heading into the game, took the brunt of everything. He allowed 12 hits and six earned runs in just 3.2 innings. That took his ERA from an already above-average 4.24 to 5.67.

Digging a little further back before Spring Training, one has to wonder if Doubront’s first full season in the majors had an adverse affect on his arm. In 2012, Doubront threw a career-high 161 innings, surpassing his previous total of 129.1, which came back in 2008. In 2011, the season prior his 161 innings, he only threw 87.2. That increase in innings for a pitcher who is just 25 years old certainly can, and has, affected the way Doubront pitches.

It’s been noticeable, too, by Red Sox manager John Farrell among others.

“(His) arm speed is not quite what it has been,” said Farrell. “You really see it in his curve. A few came in with a loopy shape.”

Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia chimed in saying, “I noticed the past few games he wasn’t throwing 95, but he still has good deception. He looks faster than he really is. He may be trying to get it over the plate early to get ahead.”

One knock on Doubront throughout his short time in The Show has been his inability to attack hitters when ahead in the count. Because of that, his pitch count rises early in the game and he rarely reaches the later innings. That was a struggle again Friday night. The telling stat here is that he threw 96 pitches (58 strikes, 38 balls), but only walked one batter. That results in a lot of 2-ball and 3-ball counts.

But Doubront has been successful with high pitch counts in the past. The difference this year? His velocity has dipped nearly three mph per start.

According to Evan Drellich at masslive.com:

Doubront averaged 93.58 mph on his four-seam fastball a season ago, 37th best in the majors. In April of 2012, he was averaging 93.24. In his first start of May 2012, he was at 93.23 on average.

Through five starts this season, that average has dropped to 90.18 mph.

You can attribute the dip in velocity to his innings increase in 2012. You can attribute it to his lack of offseason workout regimen and coming into the spring noticeably out of shape. Whatever you link it to, Doubront better fix it, and fix it quick.

There is another talented young star (Allen Webster) in AAA ready to make Fenway Park his permanent home.

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As always, give me a shout on Twitter: @thebenwhitehead

Ben Whitehead 5/04/2013 01:28:00 PM Edit
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