Buchholz looks into upping his tempo

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Buchholz looks into upping his tempo

FORT MYERS, Fla. Wednesdays scheduled offday fell on Clay Buchholzs scheduled day to pitch. So, he started the Triple-A game against a Rays squad just one of the benefits of pitching in minor league games.

Buchholz faced six batters in his first inning, recording five outs on 13 pitches, 11 strikes, with a hit and a strikeout. Odd pitching lines like that are another benefit of these outings.

Another benefit is that it allowed Buchholz to get in some necessary work. He pitched six innings, facing 27 batters, allowing 5 runs, four earned, on six hits, with two home runs, a walk and four strikeouts. He threw 89 pitches, 57 for strikes.

While it wasnt the cleanest of outings for Buchholz, he got what he needed from the outing.

Yeah, absolutely, he said. My first deal was to go out there and throw a lot of changeups. If I missed with it, throw it again. And unfortunately I did that a couple of times back-to-back and threw them both balls behind in the count. First inning felt really good, like everything was going as planned, and then had a couple of long innings after that. But the way I finished I felt really good about it.

It was after one of those long innings that pitching coach Bob McClure made a suggestion to Buchholz.

He got better increasing his tempo as he went along, McClure said.

The result?

Good stuff. I think he can work quicker and be more effective. And we talked about it, and he said it too.

Could a quicker tempo help Buchholz be more effective?

I dont know, but I would bet it would, McClure said. Just guessing, I think theres more flow there if you do it that way. Ive seen some guys real slow. Rick Sutcliffe was slow and a great pitcher. Mike Hargrove as a hitter was real slow but good hitter. Ive seen guys work slow and be good pitchers.

It can be a fine line to get a pitcher to change his tempo, possibly taking him out of his routine. But they payoff can be worth it.

Ive seen him pitch better when hes quicker, McClure said. When hes slower it doesnt seem as good. And I think it has something to do with the rhythm of his delivery, too -- when he thinks about getting the sign earlier, getting the pitch earlier, getting on the same page as the catcher earlier. At least from the windup it looks like theres more rhythm. When he goes real slow it almost looks like he starts and stops and goes again.

Im not sure if theyre connected but it sure looked like it today because after we talked about it he got seven outs in one inning on 18 pitches. He faced 10 guys in about 29 pitches. There was one hit in there, but he faced 10 guys and got nine of them out on less than 30 pitches, whereas the two innings before that it wasnt like that.

All we talked about was can you take less time in between pitches? And he said, Yes I can. Why, am I too slow? And I said I think so.

Those last couple innings felt like the ball was coming out of my hand a lot better than it was the first four innings, Buchholz said. Sped everything up a little bit delivery-wise. Felt like mechanics were a little bit better. Yeah, the body feels good.

It was Buchholzs sixth outing of the season, including minor league games. He is confident he is where he needs to be, unlike last season when he didnt feel prepared to start the season.

Yeah, just being able to do all the work in between and not having any ill effects from last year has helped out a lot, he said. Just knowing that each one of my pitches has been good at least one or two days throughout the spring. So think its just repetition now and getting to where I can throw the changeup in any count like I have been for the last couple seasons. I think once I get to that point I thin everything else sort of follows it.

Now, its just a matter of being ready for the start of the season.

I think just get ready for that first game of the season, mentally be ready, he said. Start with strike one and go from there. I think thats everybodys key. Throw strike one and then work your way to the hitter getting themselves out. Thats just my number one thought, going deep in the games.

Curran's Patriots-Bills preview

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Curran's Patriots-Bills preview

Click here for the gallery.

FOXBORO  – Four quarters left in Tom Brady’s suspension, an undetermined (but also dwindling) number of days remaining in Rex Ryan’s tenure as a head coach, this game is intriguing for a lot of reasons. The Patriots can close out a remarkable quarter-season performance without Brady and put him back in the driver’s seat with a three-game edge over the Bills simply by taking out Rex. How they manage that – and which quarterback manages that – is the question that’s swirled all week.
 
 
WHEN THE PATRIOTS HAVE THE BALL
 
Traditionally, the Patriots have thrown over and around the Bills’ front-seven with great success. Tom Brady’s good at that. Jimmy Garoppolo, with a bad shoulder, or Jacoby Brissett, with limited experience, may not be able to pull off the same act. Which means this could be a day for LeGarrette Blount who so far is leading the league in rushing. Many of those yards have come at the closeout juncture of games. This week, he may asked to do the damage early. The Bills have allowed five touchdowns on the grounds this season but only 3.4 yards per carry.
 
WHEN THE BILLS HAVE THE BALL
 
Without Sammy Watkins and dealing with issues at left tackle, the Bills are going to have to get a productive, 25-to-30-touch game out of running back LeSean McCoy. He’s handled the ball 59 times so far in three games (11 catches) and has been by far the focal point of the Bills offense. But with the Patriots having the chance to fixate on McCoy, Buffalo and newly-minted offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn better have a backup plan if and when the Patriots send multiple players to dog him. The Bills’ will be in a position where it’s on Tyrod Taylor to figure something out. The Patriots aren’t going to aggressively rush him. If the rush gets past him, it was done by mistake. Force Taylor to be a passer, find Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin and  ailing tight end Charles Clay. Meanwhile, the Patriots figure to have Donta Hightower back to help with quarterbacking the defense. The Patriots are in a position defensively to really put the screws to a Bills team that doesn’t seem to have a lot of options.
 
THE KICKING GAME
 
Old friend Brandon Tate is the Bills’ return guy on both punts and kickoffs. He’ll get a good test from the Patriots special teams corps which has been a major story this season. Ryan Allen had a career game last week against Houston with six punts inside the 20 and one sitting on the 20. There were no return yards. The Patriots kick coverage created two turnovers last game against Houston and hasn’t allowed a return past the 25.
 
PATRIOTS MEDICAL REPORT
QUESTIONABLE: QB Jacoby Brissett (thumb), QB Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder), T Marcus Cannon (calf), G Jonathan Cooper (foot), LB Jonathan Freeny (shoulder), TE Rob Gronkowski (hamstring), LB Dont’a Hightower (knee), CB Eric Rowe
 
BILLS MEDICAL REPORT
OUT: WR Sammy Watkins (foot), T Cyrus Kouandjio (ankle), C Patrick Lewis (knee) and WR Greg Salas (groin) QUESTIONABLE: S Colt Anderson (foot), TE Charles Clay (knee), CB Ronald Darby (hamstring), T Cordy Glenn (ankle), QB Cardale Jones (right shoulder), S Jonathan Meeks(foot) and S Aaron Williams (ankle)
 
GAME WITHIN THE GAME  

The speed with which Buffalo adjusts to the Patriots offensive game plan and whether or not the Patriots have an adjustment to the adjustment. The uncertainty of the Patriots quarterback situation has been a distraction for the Bills and Rex Ryan this week and – given the Bills leaky pass defense – how Buffalo decides to deploy will matter a lot depending on who’s at quarterback.
 
BILLS GOTTA STOP
 
Jannyris Edeldolagan. That’s just an amalgamation of the three wideouts of similar talent, pallor and quickness that kill defenses in the receiver shell game the Patriots play every week. Just when a defense thinks it’s got it figured out on a key third down and has set itself to take away Edelman, for instance, the dagger gets inserted by Amendola or Hogan. It’s like a shell game.
 
PATRIOTS GOTTA STOP
 
LeSean McCoy. That’s the whole damn game. Cuz you. Don’t wanna mess with Shady. Cuz Shady. Will … cause big problems.
 
THAT SUMS IT UP PATRIOTS STYLE
 
“I fly around every day. You can’t land this jet, you know what I’m saying? It’s like having a private plane, wherever I want to go, I just go. I don’t have to worry about no jet fuel. I would say Gatorade but they don’t sponsor me so I’ll just go get me some good ole’ something to drink, and Gatorade can have the plug.” – Martellus Bennett, Patriots tight end, on the team flying around in September.
 
THAT SUMS IT UP BILLS STYLE
 
“It’s more of a ‘this is still a game.’ It’s a billion dollar industry and things but it’s still a game and you’ve got to be true to yourself and I’m true to myself. To me it’s just a thing where, you know, I enjoy Belichick’s press conferences and everything else because he’s true to himself and he does a great job. It’s pretty funny to me because you guys can never get anything out of him and I just think it’s great. It’s kind of funny that way. I pulled it knowing that every question is going to be about who’s the quarterback and all that. One thing I know for sure is that Tom Brady is not the quarterback and I feel good about that.” – Simple Rex, after being asked why he mimicked Bill Belichick during his week-opening press conference
 
THE WINNER IS...
 
Patriots 23, Bills 13
 

Saturday, Oct. 1: Vesey's New York state of mind

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Saturday, Oct. 1: Vesey's New York state of mind

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while gearing up for Big Papi weekend.

 
*A “behind-the-scenes” look as Jimmy Vesey was sold on the New York Rangers, but there’s not too much detail about the pitches from the other teams. Feels pretty apparent at this point that Vesey wanted to live, and work, in New York City.

*Damien Cox says that the World Cup of Hockey better get it right the next time, or else…or else what, Damien? You’re going to block them on Twitter?

*PHT writer Joey Alfieri has Patrick Kane, Erik Karlsson and P.K. Subban making their preseason debuts on Saturday. David Backes and David Pastrnak will play their first preseason games for the Bruins as well.  

*It’s a complicated, strange story with Vladimir Sobotka, the KHL and the contract he seemingly can’t get out of to again play for the St. Louis Blues.

*Oliver Ekman-Larsson is ready to get back to work with the Arizona Coyotes after his World Cup experience.

*San Jose Sharks prospect Timo Meier is out for the next month with mono, which is definitely worse timing than Zach Senyshyn getting hit with the mononucleosis bomb over the summer.

*A quick look at the Philadelphia Flyers in advance of their preseason meeting with the Black and Gold tonight, which won’t be televised.

*For something completely different: there will be some pretty funky stuff happening on The Walking Dead this season.