PHOENIX -- It hasn’t been the ideal introduction to the Majors for Brandon Pfaadt, but he isn’t one to let his woes weigh on him. Instead, he’s looking at these outings as very tough lessons.
The lesson he learned in his second start? Not being picky with painting the corners and instead attacking the strike zone so he doesn’t fall behind in that count and give up the long ball.
In the D-backs’ 6-2 loss to the Marlins on Tuesday night at Chase Field, Pfaadt allowed six runs on seven hits. Most notably, the 24-year-old right-hander yielded two home runs to Jorge Soler.
Soler’s first homer came on a 1-1 fastball in the middle of the zone that was launched 468 feet, to the left-center-field concourse. The second came on a full count after an eight-pitch battle -- Pfaadt went outside in five of those pitches -- on a slider in the middle of the zone. Those homers accounted for five of the runs Pfaadt gave up.
Even with a small sample size, keeping the ball in the park is an issue for Pfaadt at the Major League level. Through his first two starts, he has given up six home runs and 13 runs. In five starts for Triple-A Reno in the notoriously hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, Pfaadt gave up just five homers.
“I don't think it's mechanical,” said Pfaadt, ranked by MLB Pipeline as the D-backs’ No. 3 prospect. “I think it's more just trusting myself to get ahead on the corners instead of trying to nitpick and fall behind and ultimately have to attack in the zone. I think that's something moving forward that we need to work on and it'll get better.
“I think we definitely got too fastball dependent early. My game plan is to attack with the heater. Then the second, third time through, kind of start mixing it in but I think in the middle innings we flipped the script and got too off-speed dependent. So, I think, finding that right mix will work out for us.”
D-backs manager Torey Lovullo isn’t pulling the plug on the initial Pfaadt experiment. In fact, he guaranteed in the postgame news conference that Pfaadt was going to get one more start. However, Lovullo did note that the root of Pfaadt’s issues stem from his command, specifically with his fastball. Lovullo suggested that mixing up the pitches will also help minimize damage.
“I think he was relying a little bit too much on his fastball. He wasn't pitching,” Lovullo said. “He's got a full arsenal of pitches, and he can work off of his fastball -- read and react to swings, and make adjustments and make quality pitches at all times. But I thought his fastball command was a little erratic, and he was really staying with it, staying stubborn to it.
“I think he's got to blend his pitches better. He's got to land different pitches in different areas with different speeds side to side, up down, front back.”
The D-backs know that’ll come with time. Pitching coach Brent Strom raved pregame about Pfaadt’s “unique” lower arm slot and the movement on his breaking balls. Strom noted Pfaadt has struggled with the breaking balls at the big league level, but the coach is confident that the right-hander will turn it around.
“I've been unbelievably impressed by his poise,” Strom said. “The way he handled everything. He wasn't down, as I would have been when I first debuted. He'll learn from his mistakes. This a very mature young man who kind of doesn't let anything really bother him, and he'll continue to try and improve. So I’m really excited about his future.”