Say what you like about the effectiveness of Seranthony Dominguez's fastball relative to last season. The Phillies believe that his best path back to being a dominant reliever is the fast lane.
Dominguez has struggled so far this season, and lately in particular, giving up runs in four of his last eight appearances. He entered a one-run game in the seventh inning Thursday against the Brewers and gave up a three-run homer to Yasmani Grandal that all but put the game out of reach.
Grandal’s homer came on a changeup, Dominguez’s third-best pitch. But it’s his blazing fastball that has been getting hit. After holding opponents to a .203 average and .305 slugging percentage with his heater last season, Dominguez has allowed a .289 average and .447 slugging on that pitch this year.
"Watching his fastball [Thursday], it was as good as it's been in a long time. I think [Thursday] was pitch selection," manager Gabe Kapler said. "I think he could've made a better choice to stay with that fastball given how effective and electric it was."
Indeed, it's possible that Dominguez has lost some confidence in his fastball. Kapler conceded that Dominguez's velocity dipped slightly in spring training. It has normalized recently, averaging 97.3 mph according to Statcast. Last year, Dominguez's average fastball velocity was 98 mph.
"I think it's beginning to come back to its normal levels, its normal life," Kapler said. "I think that we're going to see some poor contact going forward with Seranthony."