Ruth Keeps Locating

TRENTON, NJ - A lot of successful pitchers’ most effective and dangerous pitch is a mid to high 90s mph fastball. For Eric Ruth of the Trenton Thunder who is enjoying a breakout and All Star season, it's his pitch location that has been superb this year, especially for the fastball which barely clocks in at 90 mph.

So far this season with Trenton, Ruth has posted a 6-2 record in 12 starts with an Eastern League-leading 1.89 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP, very impressive numbers for somebody who’s not known to throw the big speed pitch.

Trenton Thunder pitching coach Jose Rosado has worked with Ruth for the vast majority of the season and has shed some light on how Ruth has been able to pitch so effectively despite not having the overpowering fastball.

“We have a guy that doesn’t have the 95, 94 mph fastball, but he’s very smart,” Rosado said. “He’s able to make good adjustments quickly. He knows himself. He knows his game, so he doesn’t try and do too much.

He keeps it simple, is a smart kid, and pounds the strike zone with his fastball and those things will always make things easier for him.”

Some may worry that his lack of heat in his fastball is a hindrance to his future, but Ruth doesn’t see it as a big issue at all.

“There are guys in the big leagues that don’t throw hard, they just command the fastball really well,” Ruth said. “I think that’s the most important part of pitching is getting that command down. It doesn’t matter how hard you throw, it’s a matter of being able to locate it right.”

Ruth has the low velocity fastball but he also has a slider and a changeup. His slider is still a work in progress in regards to maintaining consistent control. And while Ruth still isn’t afraid to throw the slider, at this point in time it's a pitch that can still get him in early trouble in some starts like a June 29th start where he had some issues throwing the slider.

Still, a major reason he has been so great this year is his ability to not just rebound from start to start but to make adjustments in the middle of the start. In that start on June 29th, Ruth made the necessary adjustments and finished the game with just one earned run in 6.1 innings pitched. Despite not having the best command on that day, he managed to throw 60 of his 88 pitches for strikes.

“I felt pretty good out there,” Ruth said of the June 29th start. “I was trying to come out and command with my fastball which I was able to do and have been doing all season song.”

Whenever Ruth goes out on the mound, he’s able to mix his pitches and take very little time to throw them. Doing that allows Ruth to get ahead in the count and seemingly use any pitch he wants regardless of the count and able to locate them with a lot of precision. Usually Ruth throws strikes 60-70% of the time when he starts and that has been another big reason why he’s been selected as an Eastern League All-Star in Double-A this year.

Another thing to note is that Ruth has had moderate success against left handed batters, holding them to a .219 average, but it’s against right-handed batters where Ruth has shined immensely, limiting them to a .203 average.

Thunder manager Al Pedrique thinks that Ruth has been improving in a lot of areas and his mental approach has been great this season. He’s been able to focus solely on his pitching while trusting in the team’s defense to make plays for him. Pedrique believes that his confidence grows every game he plays and thinks he can keep getting better.

“For a guy that doesn’t throw hard, his command is very good,” Pedrique said. “He has a great feel for pitching. He knows for a fact that he needs to pitch for contact. He needs to trust his defense, trust his stuff and I think that’s what he does best.

"I think he’s gaining more confidence in his breaking ball and fastball counts and he’s keeping the hitters honest, and the one thing for him is to get ahead in the count and keep the ball down. He is very good at throwing the ball around the plate and the fact that he can pitch well not just ahead in the count, but also behind in the count is a big reason why he’s having so much success.”

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