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Devaney Remains Positive
The 25-year-old essentially described his season in that one sentence. After splitting the 2006 between St. Lucie and Binghamton where he totaled a 12-5 record, a 2.13 ERA and a .196 opponents' batting average, the repetition of that success always seemed at arms length this season.
He steadily began the season, posting a 3.86 earned run average in April and walking only six batters through 14 innings. The continuation of his work in Binghamton last season was not immediate, but given the fluctuation in the B-Mets schedule, the whole team virtually scratched April and prepared for the road ahead. However, Devaney much like his team, struggled to find solid ground.
In the following two months, he went 3-5 with a 5.14 ERA. He labored through starts, reached maximum pitch counts, and grappled with his repertoire, namely his cutter. Devaney also throws a two-seam, sinking fastball but he generally lacked sharp command of both resulting in too many advantages for the opposition.
"A lot of my trouble was just my fastball. My cutter was really inconsistent as far as spotting, so I was throwing behind in the count a lot and I just can't do that. Even though my walks were down, it was still a lot of 2-0, 2-1 pitches that were getting put in play; that was hurting me all season," he explained.
Nonetheless, Devaney continued to peak and fall as the starts rolled on, but with each faulty appearance his confidence waned and he took many of his mental battles to the mound.
"I think towards the middle of the season, even if I put together a good start, I was thinking in the back of my head that I couldn't keep having a good start then a bad start and then repeat that," he said.
Then in early July, things really took a turn for the worst. He went on the disabled list with an elbow injury, sidelining him for nearly a month. Although Devaney pitched most of the early part of the season through the injury, he does not use it as an excuse for his poor outings despite the toll it took on his stamina. He realized that the troubles he had started with his mechanics which most likely led to the arm trouble.
"I don't think my mechanics were really ever in order early in the season. I was struggling and then the pain showed up and I just tried to push through it," he said of his efforts. "Then in July, everything just compounded and snowballed from there. In my last started before I went on the DL, against Portland, my command was bad, I was hurting pretty bad, but I was still trying to throw hard. It was then that I knew I had to get everything fixed and then come back and rebound."
When he returned from the disabled list on August 20, enough of the season remained so that he could show he had put his inconsistencies in the past, and he did just that. In his last three starts, he allowed only five earned runs in 16.1 innings pitched, striking out ten and walking three.
"I think I really needed the time off for the injury and to recuperate from the fact that I was pitching probably a good month or two while I was injured to a degree. I was pitching probably when I shouldn't have," he said.
"I was coming off the DL, I adjusted a few things with my arm, my arm slot, where I could keep myself healthy and pain free. I think that in general helped my confidence on the mound, because I started to be able to make my fastball a little bit sneakier and it had more jump to it."
The old adage says it is not how you start but how you finish. Yet Devaney does not take solace in the turn around he had in August. For him, it was minimal redemption for what seemed like lost opportunities after entering the year with high expectations. The least, he says, he can do is use it as a starting point for next season when he looks to recoup the skills he showed his first time around in Binghamton.
"I learned a lot. I felt like my stuff was better this year, I just didn't put it together as well. If I've got anything to work with, it's to stay healthy and put all the pieces together so I can come back strong next season."
The priority on his off-season agenda will be to bulk up his lower body strength. He aims to drive off the rubber and use his hips and legs to generate more velocity, rather than rely on his arm which is how his elbow problems developed. With his heater still topping out at around 88-90 miles per hour, if he can add just another tick or two to his fastball, it will go a long way towards his advancement and his ability to get back to where he was prior to this season.
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