Chiefs left-hander Matt Chico (3-4, 4.24) looking to bounce back from one of the rougher outings of his season tonight for Syracuse as they play host to Buffalo.
He will get a chance to face the same Buffalo lineup that tagged him for a season-high six runs last week.
The loss was a reversal from the previous two starts, both wins, where Chico allowed only one run and struck out eight over 12 innings.
"I couldn't miss with the fastball. I was commanding my fastball inside really well. It opened up doors for my back door slider and changeup which got a lot of ground ball outs.
The thing I have really tried to work mostly this year is to try to pitch inside. A lot more than I have in the past to open up some area for my off speed pitches. So far it has been pretty good and hopefully I can keep it up for the rest of the season."
Against Pawtucket, "I had a little trouble locating my two-seam fastball that outing. That is where the three walks came into play. For some reason I wasn't getting extended on my two-seam but my defense behind me helped me out a lot."
Chico says pitching coach Greg Booker has worked very hard with him on the two-seamer and moving his set up over a little on the mound.
"I didn't realize the last couple of years why I was getting out in front (on my pitches). It was forcing me to throw some balls outside to the left handed batters box. (Booker) moved me over on the rubber and now the past few games I haven't done that.
Every pitch has been with a purpose instead of letting a 1-2 fastball go as ball no matter what. Those things have helped me out a ton to where I have a lot more confidence to throw any other pitch in any count now."
The Chiefs pitching staff is one of the best in the International League. Chico says he can see how the hard work by the Nationals front office has paid dividends at every level of the minors, having had stops this year in Harrisburg and Syracuse.
Chico feels his stuff is good enough to pitch at the major league level, especially after how well he did in his spot start with the Nationals, allowing just two runs over five innings May 8 vs. the Marlins.
"There is always things to improve on. Pitching in certain counts and pitching to certain hitters, working on my two-seamer a little more. This is the most confidence I have felt in the past four years. I feel like I can pitch up there. But everyone here feels the same way that is why it is a battle."
Matt also loves to bring out his curveball for the third time through the lineup to keep the hitters off balance.
He says he will throw it three or four times a game and has had some success in surprising hitters with its movement.