Faria knows consistency key to take next step

Righty's focus crucial to sustaining innings, keeping bullpen fresh

March 22nd, 2018

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- For Rays right-hander Jake Faria, his recent success has been all about finding routines he is comfortable with. Whether it has been pregame preparations or pitch sequences once he is on the mound, consistency is key for the 24-year-old.
Faria allowed three earned runs on four hits in the Rays' 5-3 win against the Blue Jays on a chilly Thursday afternoon at Dunedin Stadium. His five innings marked his longest outing of the spring. He also collected a spring-high four strikeouts, but he also walked three and gave up two home runs. Overall, Rays manager Kevin Cash was pleased with the performance.
"Good to see him bounce back again. I thought he threw the ball really well," Cash said. "I know he gave up the home runs, but overall a very strong effort."
Faria had looked unhittable at times this spring. He also has had lapses in concentration, evidenced by his last frame on Thursday, when he allowed a solo home run to Danny Espinosa between free passes.
"I think it was just a lack of concentration, and not being locked in," Faria said. "Physically, I still felt good, and still felt fine."
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It was the long balls that really stung. A double down the left-field line by Steve Pearce set up a two-run shot by in the bottom of the fourth inning. Faria attributed some of that, in part, to the steady gusts coming in off the water.
"It was a fastball middle-away, and he was able to get it into the air and let the wind play with it," he said.
Until running into trouble in the fourth, Faria, who was 5-4 with a 3.43 ERA in 16 games (14 starts) as a rookie for the Rays last season, never allowed the Blue Jays' potent lineup to get into a groove. Faria allowed a two-out, slapshot single by catcher that sneaked through the left side of the infield in the first, but got Pearce to pop out weakly to left. Hernandez walked to lead off the second, but Faria induced a 4-3 double play. A throwing error by third baseman put another man aboard with two outs in the bottom of the third, but Faria was able to set down Josh Donaldson on three pitches -- including a nasty slider -- to put away the 2015 American League MVP Award winner.
"My slider was definitely the best pitch today," Faria said. "I threw some changeups that were better -- and some that weren't that good -- but for sure the slider. I was able to control it a lot more today than in the past, so I was really happy with it."
It was his second consecutive solid start, after not allowing an earned run in four innings in his last trip to the mound. In his first three outings of the spring, Faria allowed eight earned runs in just 4 1/3 innings. He walked five, hit one batter, and failed to strike out a single hitter during that stretch. Faria credited something as simple as tweaking his pregame routines so that he felt more comfortable heading into the last two starts.
"I think those first few [starts], I couldn't get a grip on what was wrong, and with the last two, after the start against Minnesota -- the not-so-good one -- we kind of got a feeling for what was going wrong," Faria said.
If the Rays' experiment with a four-man starting rotation is going to work, Tampa Bay is going to need Faria to consistently go deep into games to avoid taxing the bullpen. Faria is slated to start the Rays' fifth game of the season, taking the hill after Cash plans to go with a committee approach on Day 3. , who will have a lightened workload coming off his second Tommy John surgery, is scheduled to pitch the fourth game.