Thursday, July 25, 2002
'Scary' pitch success for Fernandez
Knuckleball key to keeping him in big leagues
By John Erardi firstname.lastname@example.org
The Cincinnati Enquirer
How much does Jared Fernandez love the knuckleball? Let us count the ways.
The knuckleball gave Fernandez a shot at the majors, has kept him there and has earned him another start, Saturday in New York.
Despite all the new headline-grabbing arrivals in the starting rotation Ryan Dempster two weeks ago in Houston, Brian Moehler Wednesday at Cinergy Field Fernandez keeps fluttering along.
I know that with me throwing 60-mile-an-hour knuckleballs, whoever comes in after me throwing 90 miles an hour is going to look like he's throwing 100, Fernandez said.
Fernandez's knuckleball is so obliging it works on command, which is why he's able to come out of the bullpen as he has been doing lately. He can come into a game even with men on base and know the knuckler is going to do its thing.
A lot of times in Louisville, I was brought into crucial situations, even bases-loaded, Fernandez said. I like the pressure situations.
Whether the catcher can catch the knuckleball is another story, but so far, Jason LaRue and Kelly Stinnett have shown they can handle it.
I know it's scary with the passed balls and wild pitches, but hopefully I'm able to save the bullpen some innings and make them more effective in other games, Fernandez said.
Fernandez is a more effective starter than reliever, but that has more to do with the knowledge that comes from going through the batting order a few times. He learns which batters can hit the knuckleball as well as his other pitches in what location.
Boston Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, the American League version of Fernandez, is both starting and relieving, too.
Having a knuckleballer who relieves and starts allows you to have another bat off the bench, and that can be big, Fernandez said.
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