MOOSIC, PA – It took some time to get going, but Chase Whitley has gotten himself into a good rhythm…
Whitley A Starter?
Whitley, 24, has appeared in 28 games for the RailRiders this season. In 61.2 innings pitched, he's 3-2 with a 3.36 ERA and three saves. He's also struck out 57 batters while walking just 20.
It wasn't until an Aug. 8 game at Buffalo that Whitley took the mound as a starter. In that first start he threw three innings and gave up three hits, one run and struck out four. Three days later, Whitley again pitched against Buffalo but from the bullpen where he threw just one inning. That was the last time he's pitched in that role.
In his next two starts versus Charlotte and Lehigh Valley, Whitley threw four and five innings, respectively. He had not given up an earned run and has struck out seven while only issuing one walk before Sunday's fourth start.
"I think it had to do with [us being low on pitching]," Whitley said of how the move to the rotation might have come about. "I do think it had a lot to do with how I've been stretched out the whole year – multiple innings every time I pitch. It's been good so far.
"Physically, I felt pretty good, surprisingly," he added about how he felt afterwards. "It's surprising because I hadn't done that in a long time, but I was pleased with it."
Like he acknowledged, this isn't the first time Whitley has pitched as a starter. He started one game for Double-A Trenton in 2011 and twice for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last season. Despite that, Whitley says there has definitely been a difference from his starts this year than his past ones.
"Those (past) starts were definitely spot starts," he said. "I've actually been in the rotation for these ones so it's been a completely different situation."
Whitley admits that there is a mentality change when starting games. He said he's been trying to prepare for it, but not in a way that calls for a complete change.
"Coming out of the bullpen is all adrenaline," he said. "The rotation feels like it's more mental, I guess. I'm trying to kind of work both into each other, keep that same mentality from the bullpen and take it over to the starting rotation.
"You can get a little more work in on the side than when you're in the bullpen," he added. "It does feel different than what I'm used to, but it's good."
Whitley doesn't know what the plan for after this season is. If he were to be converted to a full-time starter, playing in the Arizona Fall League could help build his arm strength to get ready for the grind that is a baseball season. Whitley has said he has received no indication if that will be the case – and that doesn't bother him.
"If [me starting] goes into next year, [we'll do it]," he said. "If not, I'll go back to the bullpen that's fine – either one is fine. I'm just trying to live for the day."
Whitley obviously hopes that his remaining scheduled starts the rest of the year will yield similar results as his first ones, but he knows that's not always the case, especially on the heels of his Sunday start against Pawtucket that saw him give up three earned runs in four innings. Results won't be his main focus in those starts.
"I'm more about working the process," he said, "instead of the result – the process being going out, having the right mentality and making the right pitch to help my team win."
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