Yates Hopes To Earn Job In Halos’ Pen

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Updated: March 17, 2017

Right-handed reliever Kirby Yates is on a bit of mission this spring like many others on board. Amidst his hopes of earning a place in the Angels’ bullpen, he has done something that not too many would be willing to do on a dime.

During his half dozen outings this spring, he has been tinkering with a splitter. He has decided to add another pitch into his arsenal on the grounds that his primary breaking pitch, the slider, has not always served him all too well in the past. It has been a pitch where command has been an issue to say the least. In an article recently compiled by Maria Guardado, Yates understands the command problem he has dealt with in the past.

“‘The slider has been so hit and miss the last two years that I feel like I can’t rely so heavily on the slider anymore,’ Yates said Friday. ‘I need something to back that up along with the fastball. If I have three pitches instead of two; I have a split-finger that I can go to when the slider is not there, or vice versa. It’s just another weapon. Kind of another idea to throw around and give a hitter a different look.’”

Implementing the split-finger into his game plan is critical because it will give the batters another thing to think about when facing him. Thus, the fact that he is trying it out is encouraging. It suggests his intrinsic desire to elevate his success rate and make adjustments. Suffice to say, the success rate has not been too shabby for Kirby this spring.

In six innings of work, he has amassed an impressive 1.50 ERA and has gotten seven strikeouts. In tune with this, batters have only hit .105 against the hurler. His WHIP currently resides at a 0.50 clip. All of these are more than reflective of grown man kind of numbers.

Given that arms like Cam Bedrosian and Andrew Bailey are among the only locks to have a steady bullpen role on Opening Day, Yates’ performance thus far is certainly something to not take lightly. He is definitely making quite a solid case for himself. If he keeps it up, he may be a lock himself in spite of the dizzying array of competition that exists. When asked about the competition aspect, he remained professional and frank in his approach.

“‘I haven’t really thought about it a whole lot,’ Yates said of the bullpen competition. ‘I’m kind of focused on myself. It’s the third team in three years. I’ve kind of learned you just focus on yourself and get yourself right and whatever happens happens. You like to think that if you pitch well, you’ll make the decision hard for them not to keep you on the team, so that’s kind of the position you want to put yourself in.’”

To see that Yates has this kind of mindset is reassuring by virtue of the sense of truth within it. He is doing all he can each and every time his name is called, granted he knows he cannot ultimately decide what happens. All he can do is keep working his captain’s quarters off. Assuming this trend does not whittle away, Kirby is likely putting himself close to atop the list of potential candidates.

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