LOWELL, MA - Though the series finale against the Spinners seemed to be dodging the rain, the…
Shaw Steady in His Approach
Unlike his flamethrowing colleague, Shaw has impressed through a more eclectic style of pitching based around his fastball and following secondary pitches. Shaw is not flashy, but instead his rather humble mound demeanor offers a good cover for his steady mindset and distributed high-quality pitches.
After his first 11 appearances in his rookie season – ten starts [4-3, 3.12] – Shaw feels as positive as can be about the way his career began.
"I feel really good. I couldn't ask for much more my first professional season. I'm happy with the way things are going. Aside from a couple bad starts, everything has been really consistent which was one of my biggest goals after having trouble with my consistency in college. It was one thing I set out to work on and so far I feel pretty good about that," he explained.
His first two appearances certainly helped set the tone for the season as he tossed nine shutout innings, allowed just four hits and struck out 14 against one walk.
Though he had two rough nights on July 18 [five earned runs in 2/3 of an inning] and August 2 [six earned runs in 1 2/3 innings] he has surrendered two earned runs or less in every other outing. It is that repeated success that has built his confidence.
"Stringing quality starts back-to-back has been the most positive thing for me. I've been doing it in the heart of the season was uplifting for me. I think my two best starts were against Vermont [July 23] and Staten Island [July 28] which were two big starts for us because we were playing really well as a team. I think I can look back at that part of the year and say it was the best I pitched all summer."
What is behind that success is his aforementioned deep repertoire. Though his fastball is not currently overpowering as it sits 88-92 MPH, he fills out the rest of his game with a biting mid-70s slider, tumbling low-70s curveball and a diving changeup that he controls with very good fading action.
Nonetheless, despite fastball velocity that has varied on a given night this season, he knows his game is predicated on recording first strikes with it, setting up the rest of his pitches.
"I'm using my fastball to get head. I just want to get strike one down and then stay one strike ahead by mixing in the rest of my pitches," he said. "Getting behind in a 2-1 count can get a lot of pitchers in trouble, so for the most part, I'm trying to get my fastball over for strike one but I'll keep them guess with my breaking pitch."
What keeps Shaw so steady is his unflinching desire to throw any of his pitches in any count. Whether ahead or behind in the count, he shows no hesitation to throw any of his secondary pitches. He can do so effectively and limit damage because he is getting first strikes over with his fastball, forcing hitters to expand their strike zones later in at-bats when he is not fooling them in the zone.
"I have to use my breaking pitches and changeup in any count. I can't be tentative in any count and I had to be sure to avoid that feeling from day one in this league," he detailed.
"But, at the same time, I can't consistently rely on my breaking pitches which gets me back to have to work on my fastball location. I need to spot my fastball which is something I will continue to work on the rest of the year. Quality fastballs are a big point for me. I need to stay aggressive but I'm not trying to nitpick in the strike zone. I just want to get strike one and however I do that will work for me. That's where I start."
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