Whelan's Stop In Tampa Paying Off

Whelan is just getting more work in as a starter

The decision to send Trenton standout reliever Kevin Whelan down a level to the Tampa Yankees may have seemed like a strange one. His numbers at Double-A had been impressive, including a sparkling 2.90 ERA and a perfect 3-0 record. But a high walk total had the organization a little concerned, and the plan was made to send him to Tampa to give him the opportunity to make some needed adjustments.

Kevin Whelan took the change of scenery in stride and has embraced the move.

"We've started working on some mechanical stuff," he said. "Up there I didn't really have the chance. I was going out there and throwing every other day, or every two days, and there wasn't really a set routine."

"So there wasn't really a time to work on things we wanted to work on. So they told me I was going to come down here and start, that way I'd have four days off and work on bullpen stuff."

Consistency with command is one of the areas Whelan hopes to improve on while he's pitching for the Tampa Yankees. Earlier this season in Trenton, wildness plagued what was otherwise daily dominant pitching performances.

In 31 innings pitched, Whelan allowed 25 batters to reach base via a walk. Working with pitching coach Greg Pavlik, he hopes cut that number down.

"In Spring Training we tried messing with stuff and kind of got out of my groove and not everything was working together," Whelan said. "I came down here to have an opportunity to work and get my mechanics back. Once that happens, my command will get back to where it was."

Among other things, coach Pavlik feels an adjustment made to Whelan's delivery will go a long way in alleviating the control problems.

"We're trying to get him to get a good feel for getting his arm out in front and being consistent with his release point," he said.

To ensure Whelan gets the proper workload as well as suitable time to work on mechanics, he was placed in a starter's role. It allows more time to be devoted to cleaning up the problems.

"The organization wants him to get some innings to be able work on his delivery and get a little bit of command on his pitches," said coach Pavlik. "So the way to do that is to let him start and pitch ‘x' amount of pitches."

In the early going, Whelan is happy with the results. He's starting to feel similar to the way he did last season, a year in which he went 4-1, with 27 saves and a 2.67 ERA for the Lakeland Tigers, single-A affiliate to the Detroit Tigers.

"Even up in Double-A, I didn't feel like I had last year or just before I signed," he said. "It felt like something was kind of off. And ever since I've been here, we've really started breaking down film and breaking down my mechanics and spotted a few things. So now I'm starting to get back to where I feel like I can go out there and do what I want to do with it."

Count coach Pavlik as one who's impressed by the young Kerrville, Texas native.

"He's got a quick arm, he's got a good arm, he throws in the low-90's and all his pitches are quality pitches," he said. "He's got a good, hard slider and a split. He just needs to coral it and get it into the strike zone."

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