Bronson Arroyo has been pitching professionally for 19 years. In all that time, he’s been trying to solve one of baseball’s great mysteries. He’s spent a lot of time and energy trying to figure out how to have his best stuff every fifth day.

Arroyo is like all pitchers: Some starts the velocity is there; other days it’s not. With Arroyo, it can be the difference between topping out at 90 mph and topping out at 86. For power pitchers, like Arroyo’s rotation mates Mat Latos and Homer Bailey, it be the difference between 97 and 92.

It affects breaking pitches as well.

But virtually every pitcher deals with it to some degree.

“I’ve tried to deduce that down over the years,” Arroyo said. “For me, it comes down to what I’m eating and how I’m lifting weights. Because the only thing I could ever deduce it down to is a certain feeling.

“Everybody is going to be totally different, but I want the ball to feel heavy in my hand. I don’t want the ball to feel light. The only comparison I have if I don’t touch the ball for a few days or if I haven’t lifted – because I’m a guy who’s very thin, I want to be a little snug – if the ball feels light, it’s almost like a tennis ball.

“A tennis ball is light, but it’s hard to throw it hard.”

All that said, Arroyo hasn’t completely figured it out. One year in the minors, he tracked everything he did between starts.

“I still haven’t been able to dial it in every single time,” Arroyo said. “But I’ve done a better job with the weight room and my food intake. I have more days when the ball feels heavy. If the ball feels heavy, I’ll have a little livelier fastball and for the most part better stuff.