By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – While it was another dreary loss for the Phillies Tuesday night as they fell to Washington, 5-2 – reliever Jake Diekman provided a bright spot with another strong outing.
Diekman came on in relief of starter Roy Halladay and twirled 1 2/3 shutout innings with four strikeouts against the Nats. That included a 1-2-3 7th inning where he recorded two punch outs and needed just seven pitches – all strikes – to complete the frame.
The 25-year-old lefthander has been in the big leagues now for almost two weeks and he says life is starting to slow down. “Yeah, I feel like after Chicago, and then the outing after, I’m starting to just slow the game down a lot and feel way more comfortable on the mound,” he said.
That game in Chicago was the one hiccup on Diekman’s Phillies resume here in 2012, as he struggled with control and allowed 4 runs in 2/3 of an inning. Other than that night, Diekman has been down right dominant. In 4 2/3 innings of work since his call-up, Diekman has allowed just two hits while striking out ten. His ERA is still skewed by that night at Wrigley (7.71), but opponents are hitting just .125 against him.
Diekman was a 30th round pick of the Phillies in the 2007 MLB Draft. For his first couple of years in the system he made little impact as a starting pitcher. Then in 2009 he was shifted to the bullpen. Then the real change came when the Phillies brass pulled him aside after a series of rough outings and told him they wanted him to stop throwing over the top and instead use more of the side angle he has today.
“I was kind of shocked by it, but it was an option which I think if I didn’t do it I wouldn’t be here,” Diekman said. “So it’s worked out and it feels way more natural then over the top.”
He says it really didn’t take that long to click.
“We worked on it for about two weeks and then after that I started seeing results, so it didn’t take very long.”
What did the new arm slot do for his stuff?
“Had more downward angle on my fastball and then my slider was more east and west than north and south.”
Diekman has really opened a lot of eyes and he has a lot of people excited about his potential, but he says he is doing his best to take it all in stride.
“This is a dream come true. Just got to make the most of this opportunity up here.”
Listen to the entire interview with Jake Diekman:[audio http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/nyc.podcast.play.it/media/d0/d0/d1/d0/dK/d1/d2/10K12_3.MP3]
You can follow Matt Leon on Twitter @mattleonkyw.