ATLANTA -- Jonny Venters feels fine physically. But while surrendering as many homers in the past two weeks as he had during the previous two years, the Braves' left-handed reliever finds himself frustrated and in search of a solution.
"Giving up homers [stinks]," Venters said. "It just shows that my sinker has not been sinking. It's been up in the zone. Normally, I get all ground balls. I haven't been doing that either. Guys have been elevating and hitting the ball in the air. It just shows I'm leaving balls up and my stuff is not doing what I want it to."
With his patented sinker proving inconsistent, Venters has allowed three home runs in his past six innings. He had allowed just three home runs in the 182 1/3 innings he had completed preceding this rough stretch.
Venters' struggles were extended on Saturday when Nationals phenom Bryce Harper reached across the plate and sent a 1-2 fastball on a line over the left-field wall.
"I feel great," Venters said. "I felt great yesterday. I made a mistake to Harper and he made me pay for it. I made two good pitches to him early in the count and then I left one up and he hit it out of the park. I left it up and over the plate and he barreled it. He obviously has a lot of pop."
Everything seemed fine when Venters did not allow a run in nine April appearances. But in 11 appearances this month, he has posted a 7.27 ERA and allowed opponents to hit .425 (17-for-40) with a .511 on-base percentage.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Venters' sinker has been moving more horizontal than vertical. He believes his pitcher will fix this problem by staying on top of the baseball more consistently.
" I still feel like if I make my pitches with my stuff, I'll be fine," Venters said. "I'm not going to go out there and change my approach. If I can go out there and throw like I want to, I feel like I can get outs."