“I love pitching in high-pressure moments when the game is on the line”
Q: You had a breakout year for Single-A this season. A 0.46 ERA in 24 appearances is incredible. What do you think led to having so much success this year?
A: I believe both pitching towards my strengths and taking every appearance one batter at a time led to my success this season. I think that sometimes players can look at a full season (whether it be 50 college games or 140 professional games) and become overwhelmed with the undertaking. At the beginning of every year, every player has specific goals that they want to achieve, and I think the players can get too caught up in these goals.
I had my own goals coming into my first professional season, but I reminded myself that I need to have the mentality that every appearance is going to be my best and that I am going to give every pitch I throw my best effort. I knew that if I had that mentality every appearance and not worry about the specifics, then I would have a season that I would be content with.
Q: Can you speak a little bit about what the playoffs were like or for you to be able to collect 3 saves in the process?
A: From a pitchers standpoint, I think as a team one of our strengths was our dominant starting and bullpen arms. It was exciting coming to the ballpark every day knowing the type of pitchers we had starting and available out of the pen day in and day out, but especially in the playoffs. There was so much trust within our pitching staff that we knew no matter who took the ball that they were going to give us a chance to win.
I think we all knew that if we took the lead, that it was going to be very hard to take it from us and I think that ended up being something that made the playoff atmosphere a lot of fun. It was exciting to be able to come out for three save opportunities especially when the games mean a bit more in the playoffs.
But those opportunities are not possible without the previous pitchers and position players doing their jobs both in the field and at the plate. We had a lot of big defensive stops in the field and some timely hitting all postseason that led to those types of opportunities.
Q: Do you see yourself as a bullpen guy or is there a level of interest in starting again?
A: I have a history with being both a starting pitcher and a reliever and I will always be most comfortable with whatever the Royals have planned for me. Ultimately it does not matter whether I am asked to get 18 outs as a starter or three outs as a reliever, my job is to get outs and help our team win and I am willing to do that job in any form. Personally, I want to be on the mound pitching during the stressful innings.
I love pitching in high-pressure moments when the game is on the line and I think that is where I am at my best when the pressure is at its most critical point. The greater the pressure the more potential success that awaits and the more fun you have while doing it. I started working on my mental game and preparation had a relatively young age compared to most and there is not a situation that I am not mentally ready for.
A special thank you to Brandon (@bmarklund13) for taking the time to speak with me.