Key for Skaggs: Location, location, location

Key for Skaggs: Location, location, location

Key for Skaggs: Location, location, location
DENVER -- For D-backs rookie left-hander Tyler Skaggs, it's not a matter of velocity as much as it is about location.

After three strong starts to begin his Major League career late last month, his last three have resulted in a 10.50 ERA, and some have raised concerns about his velocity being in the upper 80s toward the end of his last start -- as opposed to the low 90s he hit earlier in the game.

Those concerns don't appear to exist in the clubhouse, however.

"It's a little bit down, but this time of the year, for a young kid, it's not uncommon," pitching coach Charles Nagy said. "The ball is still coming out of his hand good. Physically he feels fine, so there's no concern."

Skaggs and Arizona manager Kirk Gibson, speaking in separate interviews, cited a similar reason for his recent struggles: fastball location, not the speed.

"I'd say No. 1, it's fastball command," Gibson said. "I think his changeup has really come a long way. If you don't locate your fastball, you're in trouble. The balls that have been hit hard if you look at them, there's elevation to them and they're just not in the zone where they need to be.

"He's got to figure some things out and trust some things. He'll do so, he's young, he's got great stuff."

Skaggs acknowledges a drop in velocity, but insists that physically, he feels great.

"I feel good," Skaggs said. "It's not middle of the season, where everything is clicking and I'm throwing 94 [mph]. I mean that makes it real easy to pitch when you're throwing 94 or 96. But my body feels great and I'm confident, it's just frustrating, because it's not a good feeling to go out there and keep losing.

"I just need to work on location. I've been leaving a lot of pitches up. Everything else has been good. The curveball has been so-so, but the changeup has been an unbelievable pitch for me. I'm really confident with it right now I feel like I can throw it at any time."

As for the suggestion that Skaggs be shut down for the rest of the season, Nagy points out that the next two weeks will give Skaggs the experience of pitching deep into September for the first time, and the D-backs' opponents the rest of the way also provides a benefit.

"We're playing a lot of our own division, so to be able to see hitters they're going to see a lot of in the future is valuable," Nagy said.