PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies left-hander Jake Diekman has an overpowering fastball, but the young reliever is still improving his breaking ball. After allowing three home runs on hanging sliders in a span of six outings in April, he made some adjustments and has since gotten better results.
Diekman fired two perfect innings Monday against the Blue Jays, striking out three and keeping his slider down in the strike zone. He also struck out the side in a scoreless inning Friday against the Nationals. That's a good sign for a Phillies bullpen that has struggled mightily this season.
"He made some good adjustments and showed it last night," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said Tuesday. "He threw the breaking balls in the zone, out of the zone. Not pitches that could be driven, but pitches that would be tempting and then break out of the zone, which is good for him. He had his good fastball. So he had a good combination last night with both of his pitches with good location and getting ahead of the hitters with fastballs."
As a reliever in his first full season in the big leagues, Diekman is bound to have his ebbs and flows. But the Phillies like the way the lefty has responded to adversity.
"Yeah, make some adjustments and learn from mistakes," Sandberg said. "He's well aware of what he needs to do and what he needs to do with his stuff to be effective."