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Seranthony Domínguez feeling 'optimistic' after a series of strong outings for the Phillies

Alex Coffey, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Baseball

DENVER — Caleb Cotham was watching Seranthony Domínguez pitch the seventh inning of Saturday’s game against the Rockies when he saw something that piqued his interest. There was a runner on second base and no outs. Jacob Stallings — a right-handed hitter who typically doesn’t chase much — was at the plate and had worked Domínguez to a 3-2 count.

The right-handed reliever dotted a four-seam fastball right at the far bottom corner of the zone for strike three. It looked like the Seranthony Domínguez of old.

“That gets me going,” said Cotham, the Phillies pitching coach.

Domínguez faced Rockies first baseman Hunter Goodman in the next at-bat. After pumping 97-98 mph fastballs to Stallings, Domínguez began throwing 87-88 mph sliders. He threw six pitches to Goodman — five of them sliders — and Goodman grounded out. Cotham saw it as a sign that Domínguez was feeling confident.

“He threw him five or six sliders and just took care of him,” Cotham said. “That’s not something he’s done this year, and it’s getting to be more and more of a strength of his. I’m just going to throw this, if the hitter doesn’t react, well, I’m going to stay with that until he tells me something that I need to change.”

It has been a frustrating few months for the Domínguez, but both he and Cotham are optimistic that he is getting closer to where he needs to be. In his last seven games entering Sunday, Domínguez had a 1.35 ERA with five strikeouts and four walks. Many of those outings have been lower leverage, but his outing on Saturday was not. Domínguez was tasked with keeping the game at a one-run deficit, and he did that en route to an 8-4 Phillies win.

 

“I think he’s really, really close to being … he’s capable of being the best in baseball,” Cotham said. “And he’s pitching better and better. He’s pitching freer. There’s just a feeling a little more in the last handful of outings, where that just feels like the guy.”

Domínguez said he has been making a lot of adjustments. He didn’t want to get into specifics, but many of them pertain to his control/command, and the movement on his slider. They’d like the slider to have more bite. It has been looking more normal of late.

“The slider feels like it has better break, more consistency,” Domínguez said. “It’s getting more swing and miss.”

He is also working on his mindset. Domínguez has a tendency to overthink when he’s pitching, which is something he is trying to avoid.

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