Much has been made of Felix Doubront’s diminished velocity. The left-hander, meanwhile, isn’t all that concerned about the radar gun.
Doubront, whose average fastball velocity this season sits at a career-low 89.9 mph, worked in the high 80s during his first two rehab starts with Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket. But despite a falling strikeout rate and an overall disappointing start to the 2014 season, Doubront, who is coming back from a shoulder issue, is confident he can return to his old, harder-throwing ways.
“Since I started rehabbing, working my shoulder — (it) feels really good and really loose. That’s the thing I need to feel better,” Doubront told WEEI.com’s Katie Morrison. “Over the past two rehab starts I (felt) great, (was) throwing strikes, getting a feel for all my pitches. Velocity is not there, but I’m building my strength to get to that level. I’m going step it up a little bit more on Sunday.”
Doubront is scheduled to make another rehab start for Pawtucket on Sunday. It’s possible the lefty could rejoin the Red Sox’s rotation after that. Boston certainly would like to get more consistent production from the 26-year-old, though, and it could start with an uptick in velocity.
Doubront, who is 2-4 with a 5.12 ERA in nine major league starts this season, threw in the mid 90s as recently as 2012. It coincided with a career-high strikeout rate of 9.3 K’s per nine innings. Doubront’s strikeout rate has since dropped to 7.7 strikeouts per nine innings in 2013 and 6.1 strikeouts per nine innings this season (his worst mark as a full-time starter), and shoulder fatigue has been an issue on more than one occasion.
“It’s getting to that point (where) it’s really close, and I can feel the power — not even from last year but from 2012 when I was throwing 95 or 96. I’m getting there,” Doubront said. “It’s really strong right now, and I’m going to keep working to get it to the top.”
While an increase in velocity could add to Doubront’s overall repertoire, it’s definitely not the end-all, be-all. The southpaw even acknowledged such, stating that his main objective while rehabbing is to throw strikes and repeat his delivery.