Sean Doolittle admits heavy workload contributed to lapse in mechanics

Chris Lingebach
May 28, 2019 - 6:53 pm

Sean Doolittle doesn't want to make a big deal of it, but does reluctantly admit his heavy early season workload has probably contributed to his recent struggles on the mound.

"The usage is part of it. I don't want to like turn this into a thing," the Nats closer told 106.7 The Fan's Grant & Danny during his weekly segment, presented by Lindsay Volvo Cars of Alexandria. "I had a heavy workload in the beginning of the season. It is what it is. It is part of my job."

Doolittle began the season with a 0.95 ERA, allowing just two earned runs in his first 18 outings (19 innings), and going 3-1 with six saves through May 15. Doolittle, over his past four outings, has allowed seven earned runs on nine hits, two walks and three strikeouts.

"And now, there's been some sloppy mechanics the last couple times out, and I think part of that is my body not quite firing the way that it's supposed to," he said. "You know what? Lots of relievers go through it. It's kind of an occupational hazard of pitching in that closer role, because I was pitching in those situations early in the season because we had chances to win those games.

"I felt good in the moment and I wanted to help my team win, so I certainly wasn't going to back down from any of those opportunities to pitch. Right now, I've had a really good couple work days in the back end of that Marlins series going back and watching film from last season. I really feel a lot better with where I'm at mechanically, so I'm looking forward to getting in there hopefully tonight."

One thing Doolittle noticed is that his mechanical lapse has lowered his spin rate, something he's been working to correct the past few days.

"The spin rate stuff, we have several people in our clubhouse that get that information," he said. "And if fans can get it... if you know Brooks Baseball is a website that has a lot of that data stuff."

Doolittle isn't getting his analytics from Brooks Baseball, he clarified through laughter. That was merely an example of fans having access to many of the same spin rate measurements.

"Our guys have that stuff right away," he said. "So I come in and throw my glove into my locker and storm back to the weight rooms. One of our strength coaches gets it really quickly and he's been really, really great throughout my entire time with the Nats. He knows what to look for, he knows what my keys are, where my extension's supposed to be, what my release height's supposed to be, and therefore, spin rate, spin axis, stuff like that.

"He gets it and I'll kind of debrief with him for a little bit, and then you can go into the film room and those guys have it as well, and watch some film and kind of, I guess, put two and two together."

"Those analytics, you just have to know how they translate to you," Doolittle said. "People rely on them super heavily. You just have to know: What does it mean when your release height is this, and what's that mechanical fix? So sometimes that takes a day or two to figure out, but we're in a good spot right now, I think."

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