Dan Haren sharp in second start

(John McDonnell / The Washington Post)

(John McDonnell / The Washington Post)

Dan Haren breezed through the first two innings today against the Houston Astros. He dealt an onslaught of sinkers and cutters, striking out two and not allowing one ball out of the infield. In the third inning, the Astros managed two singles and a walk for a run. In sum, the performance enabled Haren to drop an all-time spring training quote afterward.

“In spring training, if you do good, you feel great. If you do bad, you’re just working on stuff,” Haren said. “I was just working on things in the third inning, you know.”

Haren fired 50 pitches over his three innings, dominating for the first two frames and finding items to tweak in the third. Haren mixed in a curveball and two or three split-fingered fastballs in the third inning, and he plans in his next start to focus on the split. He allowed a single to left-handed hitter Carlos Corporan on a two-strike splitter, “which just can’t happen,” Haren said – he had left the pitch too high zone rather than making Corporan chase it low.

In his first start, Haren threw his fastball mostly between 89 and 91 miles per hour, which surprised him. Today, according to one scout’s radar gun, Haren threw 88-89 mph. That’s perfectly fine with him. He expected to sit there with his velocity, wanting to dial back a bit in his second start.

Haren continued his emphasis on throwing inside to right-handed hitters. In the first inning, he induced a dribbler back to him from Jose Altuve on a front-door cutter, a pitch he almost never threw to a right-handed hitter last season. Altuve hit the same pitch for a single in the third, which scored a run.

The only thing that really frustrated Haren was his walk to Tyler Greene – Haren bases his entire pitching philosophy on limiting walks and maximizing strikeouts. He was glad to labor a little in the third inning because he worked from stretch and, “you build endurance through pushing yourself,” Haren said.

Overall, after two spring starts, he feels like he’s in a good place. For a pitcher who faced some questions about his health entering the spring, Haren has been awfully sharp.

“Really good,” Haren said. “I was really encouraged. The big thing is how I bounce back, not necessarily how I feel out there. Last time, I felt really good the next day. I’m putting in a lot more work with trainers and stuff. When I was young, I wouldn’t even go in the training room. Now I got to be in there twice a day.”

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