FanPost

Borowski by the Bay

Here's an update from St. Pete on Average Joe. So far, he's been a far-above-average Devil Ray ...

{Borowski aims to get most from less}<}<
{By DAMIAN CRISTODERO}}<
{c.2005 St. Petersburg Times}}<
   Three pitches. That's all Devil Rays setup man Joe Borowski said he wants to throw to a batter.<
   The strategy serves several purposes.<
   It saves wear and tear on a right arm that the past two years has overcome a torn rotator cuff and a broken wrist. It gives Borowski fewer chances to goof. It prevents batters from zeroing in on his pitches.<
   And eventually, he said, it feeds on itself.<
   ``When you get a reputation of throwing strikes, people are more apt to swing earlier in the count and you're going to get people out earlier,'' Borowski said.<
   It's working.<
   In nine appearances since signing with Tampa Bay for a prorated share of the league minimum salary of $316,000, Borowski has thrown 114 pitches to 30 batters, an average of 3.8.<
   But Borowski's value is not so much in numbers as in outs.<
   The right-hander has pitched 81//3 scoreless innings and given up just three hits for a skinflinty opponent's batting average of .107. The eighth-inning specialist also has helped stabilize a bullpen that had been as shaky as a kid in a haunted house.<
   Before the All-Star break, the Rays allowed 92 runs in the eighth inning in 89 games and lost 10 in which they led after seven.<
   After the break, which is when Borowski joined the team, Tampa Bay has allowed seven runs in the eighth inning (three by the bullpen) in 17 games and is 8-1 in games in which he pitched.<
   It's a streak manager Lou Piniella does not want to jinx.<
   ''I don't know,'' he said when asked about Borowski's success. ``Let's just leave that situation untouched. Let him pitch.''<
   Borowski, 34, who has pitched the eighth inning in eight of his nine outings, said he knew his arm still had some life, even if the Cubs believed differently.<
   Chicago designated the Bayonne, N.J., native for assignment June 29 with a 6.55 ERA in 11 appearances.<
   Borowski did not pitch for the Cubs until May 20 because of a wrist broken in spring training. That after spending the last four months of 2004 on the disabled list with a torn rotator cuff.<
   It was an emotional parting. Borowski was integral to the Cubs' 2003 playoff run. Given the closer role because of an injury to Antonio Alfonseca, Borowski made good on 33 of 37 save chances.<
   He also believed his arm was ''turning a corner'' when the Cubs said goodbye.<
   ``It was almost like I was going through spring training again in Chicago,'' he said. ''It's unfortunate. I was right there. But what are you going to do? When this came along, I had no doubts I could still pitch, so it happened to work out well.''<
   Borowski's velocity has not matched the low 90s when at his best in Chicago, but he has consistently hit the high 80s.<
   ``As soon as I came back from rehabbing the rotator cuff, that was the question, ''Can you ever throw hard again?' '' Borowski said. ``I kept trying to explain it doesn't matter how hard you throw. I can throw 98 mph and still get my head handed to me.<
   ''The bad thing about baseball is everybody gets fixated on how hard you throw and home runs and strikeouts. That's not the name of the game. The name of the game is to win no matter what you do. So you throw hard. It looks good, but who cares?''<
   No one, as long as Borowski continues his success, and that's where this three-pitch thing has come in handy.<
   ``It's not throwing the ball right down the middle,'' he said. ''You hit your spots, but you're not trying to make the absolute best pitch you possibly can on every single pitch. I throw to a certain spot and look to get ahead of guys. As soon as I do that, I make them hit my pitch.''<
   Add Borowski's passion for competition - ``I love pitching when the game is on the line'' - and his disdain of failure - ''I absolutely hate losing'' - and three-pitches-and-out seems plausible.<
   ``It's a good philosophy,'' Borowski said. ''It's not going to happen all the time, but I'd much rather throw 10, 11, 12 pitches in an inning than 24.''<
    <

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of SB Nation or Al Yellon, managing editor (unless it's a FanPost posted by Al). FanPost opinions are valued expressions of opinion by passionate and knowledgeable baseball fans.

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