Carpenter Armed With New Pitch and Approach

Hot Rods pitcher Ryan Carpenter has had success for Bowling Green this season and he attributes that to two different areas of his game he has been working on. Carpenter has started to work faster when attacking hitters, while also trying to force them to become uncomfortable in the box. Also, Carpenter has been working on a cut fastball to add to his arsenal. The results so far have been good.

"I started the cutter three starts ago," Carpenter said. "I work on it everyday and it keeps getting better."

Carpenter has been working on the cutter with Hot Rods pitching coach Bill Moloney.

"He's a quicker worker anyway, which I like," Moloney said. "He's taken to the cutter pretty good, it just takes awhile to get use to."

Carpenter said he works much more quickly on the mound. This has been another contributing factor in his success this year as well.

"I like to throw the pitch, get the ball back," Carpenter said. "It really throws the hitter off."

Carpenter hasn't made any other major changes this season except for focusing on stiffing up his front side when he lands and keeping his mental focus.

Carpenter, a 6'5" 235 pound left handed pitcher, has been putting on a show on the mound this season. The Peoria, AZ, native was selected in the 21st round by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008 but chose to pursue a scholarship to Gonzaga University. Carpenter said it was a decision that came down to the wire.

"I really wanted to go to school," Carpenter said. "It ended up I got picked by them again and I had only heard good things about them."

Going to school at Gonzaga helped Carpenter grow in many ways. He said it helped with maturity and gave him an opportunity to face better hitters.

"I got use to traveling and those responsibilities," Carpenter said.

In 2011, Carpenter was selected by the Rays organization again but this time in the seventh round of the MLB June Amatuer draft.

Carpenter began his professional career at Short-Season A Hudson Valley. In four starts with the Renegades he was 2-1 with an earned run average of 0.76. He also had 26 strikeouts in 23.2 innings pitched.

Entering the 2012 season with the Hot Rods, Rays Digest ranked Carpenter the 26th-overall prospect in the Rays organization. Carpenter has lived up to that so far this season.

He is currently tied for first on the team and is third in the Midwest League in wins, with five. In 53.2 innings pitched this year, Carpenter's ERA is a solid 3.59 and he is tied for the fewest walks on the team with just seven.

Carpenter credits being mentally focused to his success this season.

"I'm making pitches when I need to," Carpenter said. "If I give up a run here or there, I make sure no one else scores after that."

Carpenter's strikeout numbers have been impressive for the Hot Rods. He currently has 52 strikeouts, which is good enough for second on the pitching staff and is tied for eighth in the league.

He is a key cog in the rotation on a Hot Rod team that is second in team-ERA in the league with a mark of 3.30 They are second only to the Lansing Lugnuts who lead with a 2.84 ERA.

Carpenter has been much better at home than on the road, where he is 4-0 with a 1.17 ERA and an opponents' batting average of .192. Away from Bowling Green Ballpark, Carpenter is just 1-2 with a 5.87 ERA and an opponents' batting average of .336.

The southpaw says he doesn't change his focus when he is at home or on the road and it doesn't have to do with his comfort level.

"It just seems to be a pattern this year," Carpenter said. "It's funny how it works out that way."

The stat that really stands out when comparing home and away is his earned runs.

Carpenter has given up just 3 earned runs at home compared to 20 ER on the road.

A major factor in Carpenter's numbers on the road was from his start in Lansing on May 10, where he was only able to throw 2.2 innings while giving up nine earned runs.

His last start on May 31, was against Lansing as well but this time at home.

"I was looking forward to pitching against them (Lansing) again," Carpenter said. "It was kind of a vengeance type start."

Carpenter threw four shut out innings, only allowing two hits in that game for the Hot Rods.

"I think he learned a little bit from the last outing against them," Moloney said. "He (Carpenter) was a little bit sharper this time and his changeup was better."

Carpenter has a fastball, slider, changeup and cutter in his arsenal of pitches. Most of his starts he throws predominately fastballs, but his slider has improved greatly.

"I like to get ahead with a fastball," Carpenter said.

The back-door slider is another pitch that Carpenter said he likes to use to get strikes on hitters.

Moloney really likes how deep Carpenter is working into games and is impressed with his ability at getting out of jams this season.

"He's been pitching well," Williams said of the big lefty.



Austin Nichols is the Bowling Green beat writer for Rays Digest. You can follow him on Twitter at @Nichols_HotRods.

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