Extra bullpen sessions pay off for John Danks, White Sox

Extra bullpen sessions pay off for John Danks, White Sox
May 24, 2014, 6:00 pm
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Not satisfied with the location of his pitches, John Danks headed to the bullpen three times in between Saturday’s start and his previous one.

What he and pitching coach Don Cooper accomplished since last Sunday has Danks thinking he’ll make two more bullpen session before his next outing.

Danks allowed three hits and walked none in eight scoreless innings only to see the bullpen give away a three-run lead as the White Sox lost, 4-3, to the New York Yankees in 10 innings. It was the first time in 10 starts this season Danks had allowed no runs nor had he issued a walk.

“Coop and I worked a lot on the side this week,” Danks said. “Doing some more mechanical stuff. Noticed some stuff and felt good, I felt like I was able to throw the ball where I wanted to and get some weak contact.”

Danks isn’t the only one who noticed.

He retired the first seven batters he faced and didn’t give up a hit until Mark Teixeira doubled with two outs in the fourth inning. From there he set down 12 in row before getting out of a minor jam with two outs in the eighth inning.

[MORE: White Sox bullpen falters in loss to Yankees]

Of the 28 batters he faced, Danks only went to a three-ball count three times, including none of the last 23 hitters. He needed only 104 pitches to complete eight innings.

“He was fantastic,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “I thought he was jumping ahead. He had a great changeup working. Curveball, he was able to locate. I think when he's able to do that he becomes tough. He's keeping everybody off-balance, and that's what he did today of just watching him throw.”

The biggest key might have been Danks’ fastball.

He threw 38 of 55 two- and four-seam fastballs for strikes against the Yankees, good for 69 percent of his pitches, per brooksbaseball.net. In his previous nine starts, Danks had thrown strikes on 266 of 336 fastballs (61 percent).

With a day off Thursday, Danks won’t be scheduled to pitch again until Friday against the San Diego Padres. He likes the progress he and Cooper made and expects he’ll be back in the ‘pen on Tuesday and Wednesday for more, though with perhaps less of a pitch count.

This last week it was probably 30 or 40 (pitches per), but we were working on mechanical stuff and trying to get comfortable with it,” Danks said. “This time will be less than, surely, but we’re going to continue to work. We’re not quite there yet.”