Washburn adding split-finger pitch

Washburn adding split-finger pitch

SEATTLE -- Left-hander Jarrod Washburn has added a split-finger fastball to his repertoire, and it could become an important part of his arsenal.

"He doesn't have that out pitch, and has been working on a split," manager John McLaren said during his daily media session prior to Sunday's series finale against the White Sox. "He threw one in [Saturday night's] game, I think to [Joe] Crede, that bottomed out."

Washburn has mentioned several times in the past that he doesn't have any one pitch that can put away hitters. Therefore, he depends on pitch location, and when the location of the pitch is off just a little, bad things happen.

"At this stage of his career, maybe [the splitter] can make a difference for him," McLaren added. "It gives the hitters a different look. The pitch looks like a fastball, but breaks down. Anytime you have the hitter jumping at the ball, it's a big advantage for the pitcher."

Washburn, who has a 2-5 record and 5.68 ERA in eight starts this season, worked on a changeup during Spring Training and had good success with the pitch in Cactus League games. But it has not been as good during the regular season.

Washburn looked like two different pitchers in Saturday night's game. He retired the side in order in the first inning, striking out two of the batters he faced, but the wheels came off in the second inning when he surrendered six runs -- half of them on a three-run home run to Brian Anderson.

"It seemed like he was getting deeper into the counts," McLaren said. "He missed with a couple of pitches, and when you're not throwing consistent strikes, you're not going to get borderline pitches."

Washburn has not been wild this season, walking only nine batters in 44 1/3 innings. The seven home runs he has surrendered are the most on the staff.

The epitome of Washburn's dilemma occurred in the second inning, when with a 3-and-1 count on Anderson, the veteran lefty grooved a fastball that was driven over the center-field fence.

"Wash has had trouble making pitches at times this year," McLaren said. "And it has been about location."

Perhaps the splitter will make a difference.

Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.