When Padres reliever Ernesto Frieri finally had a bad game, tripling his 0.75 ERA on Monday, he appeared to experience a problem that seems counterintuitive: He struggled to throw effective pitches outside of the strikezone.
Frieri threw strikes consistently with his low-90s fastball. Ahead in the count, he had the free-swinging Alfonso Soriano dead to rights. A pitch in the dirt, or neck high, may have induced Soriano to swing and miss. Frieri was unable to get that done. The pitch that Soriano drove for a double wasn't a strike, either, but it wasn't the bait that Frieri intended for his two-strike pitches to be.
Greg Maddux used to say that he attempted to throw strikes that looked like balls to the hitter, and balls that looked like strikes. Frieri appears far more comfortable at throwing strikes. Strange though it may seem, he may have to learn to how to throw enticing pitches out of the strikezone. His across-the-body delivery may reduce his options in this area. However, he's with the right club. The Padres excel at throwing timely balls that look like strikes.