Patterson Looks To Get Ahead

Patterson wants to get ahead with his fastball

Blessed with some of the best stuff and one of the better arms in the organization, how Garrett Patterson has gone just 5-12 with a 4.87 ERA in his career thus far has been one of the more befuddling mysteries in the Yankees farm system. Coming off his worst season numbers-wise, he says the big step towards tapping his potential is simply getting ahead in the count.

"The main thing I would say is strike one, which is the best pitch in baseball," Garrett Patterson listed as the reason for his inconsistencies. "I'm fine when I get strike one and strike two.

"More often than not when I get ahead in the count, I'm okay. When I'm in trouble, it's when I'm not getting ahead in the count, which is more times than it should be."

Left-handers who can hit 97 MPH and sit consistently in the 93-94 MPH range like Patterson are extremely hard to find, especially ones armed with a plus changeup and a plus breaking ball.

While he says he is confident throwing his slider and changeup to location, inconsistent mechanics has wreaked havoc with his fastball command and that is primarily the reason he has walked over six batters per nine innings in his career.

"Probably the fastball," the pitch he listed as having the hardest time locating. "I was comfortable with my slider and changeup the whole year. I would just say the fastball for a strike one.

"When I'd go to a changeup or a slider first pitch, usually it would be there. Sometimes when I went fastball first pitch, it wasn't as consistent as it should be."

Staying back in his mechanics was his mantra for Instructs this year as he and Gil Patterson went to work on improving his delivery and finding a consistent release point to better his fastball command.

"There's times that I'm not staying closed, which is causing me to fly open," Patterson revealed, "which is causing my arm to get up late, and that happens because I'm not separating over the rubber. I'm working on separating over the rubber and staying closed. Gil thinks that should take care of it."

Not one prone to trying to muscle up and overthrow on the mound, the former starting pitcher realizes improving his fastball location and cutting down his walk totals are more important now coming out of the bullpen.

"I honestly just think I'm comfortable coming out of the pen," he admitted. "I think if I can cut my walks down more, then I think I could be a guy they want to go to out of the pen. I see myself as a seventh or eighth inning guy, a setup guy or closer.

"[Cutting down on the walks is] the one and only thing honestly. I'm not a guy that looks at the stats. I don't go look at my numbers every time I pitch. I didn't look at the stat sheet one time this year. I don't know how many innings I threw, how many walks or strikeouts I had, any of that.

"I would bet you though that 70 percent of the runs that I gave up were walks probably. It would be high for sure. I always get in trouble when I walk guys. Of course pitchers get in trouble when they walk guys, but I felt as long as I didn't walk guys, I would be alright."

Finally healthy for the first time in years and confident he can improve his fastball command to get ahead in counts more frequently, Patterson believes his recent move to the bullpen gives him a fresh start.

"In my mind I still feel like I've got a lot of baseball left. I haven't started the career I want to start. Yeah I've been in the system for two years and it hasn't gone the way I would have liked it to have gone or the way the Yankees would have liked it to have gone, but my main goal is to get after it this offseason, come in Spring Training next year and be the pitcher they want me to be and the pitcher I want to be.

"People can label it the way they want. I'm sure they have questions as to what the hell is going on. That's fine because I haven't had a very good two years but I also know I will prove myself sooner or later."

While critics line up and point to his minor league numbers as some sort of evidence of his big league potential, he shrugs it off and is just happy the Yankees continue to believe in him.

"I feel like I can pitch in the big leagues and I feel like the Yankees think I can too," said the 25-year old. "I would just say my time is coming. If someone wants to give up on me, that's fine. I've got plenty of people still supporting me. Whether it's this year, or in two or three years, I will prove myself."

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