It hasn't resulted in any runs coming across the board, but the Angels reliever notices that they're starting to barrel up his deceptive fastball a lot better than they had been. The latest example came Thursday night, when Frieri put three runners on -- two on line-drive singles -- before preserving a two-run lead with a game-ending double play.
There will come a time, Frieri believes, when he'll have to offset his fastball more often.
"Everybody's getting ready for me," Frieri said after converting his 10th save in 10 chances. "They know me a little bit more, they know that I use my fastball a lot, and those guys are really good hitters. I have to make some adjustments. I have to work on my breaking balls and just try to get them out, because, like I said, they're ready for me. They're looking fastball all the time now, and they know that I throw it a lot."
Since coming over from the Padres in early May, Frieri has thrown his fastball 83.9 percent of the time, according to FanGraphs.com.
Frieri isn't about to make drastic changes to what has worked so well for him -- what has allowed him to notch 23 1/3 scoreless innings and strike out 40 batters in the process. But he realizes that he'll eventually have to go away from his fastball a little more frequently to keep hitters off balance.
Mariano Rivera he's not.
"There's never been another one like him, and I'm pretty sure I'm not the next Mariano," Frieri said of the Yankees' closer, who has carved a Hall of Fame career with basically only a cutter. "That guy is unbelievable."
Frieri doesn't use them very often, but in addition to an electric fastball -- one that features late life and can cut in several different directions -- he also sports a slider and changeup.
On Thursday night, in fact, he used an offspeed pitch to end the game. With the bases loaded, one out and the Angels leading, 9-7, Frieri figured Edwin Encarnacion would be looking for a fastball on an 0-2 count. So, he surprised him with the slider, which he rolled over on to eventually end the game.
"I know that I have to make adjustments," Frieri said. "That's what baseball is -- it's about making adjustments. That's how you get better. And I'm glad that I just got out of that inning. It was really tough. Now I know that I need to work on something."