BALTIMORE -- Last year, Dan Haren could frequently throw his fastball in the 91-92 mph range. This year, it's a lot more like 88-89 mph, with his average fastball velocity dropping a hair each of his last three years -- from 90.5 in 2010, to 89.8 in 2011, to 88.7 so far this season, according to PITCHf/x.
In his last start against the Dodgers -- when he gave up five runs on nine hits and three walks in five innings -- Haren threw only six of his 102 pitches at 90 mph, and none faster.
For Haren, though, location is priority No. 1.
"I think the last thing that any pitcher should do is try to add velocity, because location is a lot more important than velocity," he said. "Look at Scott Downs, he throws 88, 90 mph and he's [allowed] one run this year. He makes quality pitches down in the zone, and that's what it's all about at this level."
Haren has hardly been his dominant self this year, posting a 4.24 ERA and seven quality starts in his 15 outings. Location may be the biggest reason, but velocity is what provides very little margin for error.
For that, you can look at mechanics, or the recent lower back ailments he's dealt with, or the fact that Haren has thrown the second-most innings in the Majors since 2005. But while Haren isn't the pitcher who was throwing in the mid-90s in his early years, the 31-year-old right-hander believes he's still perfectly capable of getting back up to the low 90s again.
"I think I could, definitely," Haren said. "There's been times where I've kind of held myself back, or just some health issues earlier in the year. We're almost halfway through the year. I think I still have a lot of good days to go."