ATLANTA -- Chris Young has heard all the talk about juiced baseballs that have resulted in a dramatic increase in major-league home runs this season.
It isn’t any consolation.
In his first season as the Phillies’ pitching coach, Young has presided over a staff that entered Thursday night having given up 145 homers, far and away the most in the National League and third-most in the majors behind the Baltimore Orioles (168) and Seattle Mariners (147).
"I saw a tweet the other day that 14 of 30 teams are on pace to break their franchise record for home runs, but to just use that as an alibi doesn't work," Young said. "As a staff, a lot of people have spent a lot of time digging into how they're coming, where they're coming, who they're coming against, in what zones they're happening in. We're keenly aware of it and are spending a lot of time and energy on trying to make that trend flip around for us.”
Earlier this week, manager Gabe Kapler said the Phillies had uncovered a trend with their pitching that left them “confident that there’s a specific adjustment that is going to help us get better.” In Wednesday’s 9-2 loss to the Braves, though, Nick Pivetta gave up two more homers and Juan Nicasio allowed one.
Neither Kapler nor Young will divulge that change, although Kapler described it as “nothing that’s rocket science.” There’s nothing the Phillies can do about the composition of the baseball, but they can work with their pitchers on better game-planning, including pitch selection and sequencing.
That's where Young comes in.
“Sometimes the adjustments are visible on the field, sometimes they’re not as visible,” Young said. “But absolutely we’re making adjustments on a daily basis and sometimes on a middle-of-the-game basis to address trying to avoid damage.