ALLENTOWN, Pa. (CBS) – The Phillies’ bullpen this season has been bolstered by the emergence of two young power arms, in righthander Michael Stutes and lefthander Antonio Bastardo.
Should the need for more quality arms emerge for the Fightins’, they have some real options at AAA Lehigh Valley. Right at the top of that list is 6’8″ righthander Michael Schwimer.
Schwimer pitched a scoreless ninth inning last night in a 4-3 Lehigh Valley win over Indianapolis, to pick up his third save of the season. In the process he lowered his ERA this season to 1.96 in 41⅓ innings.
Schwimer was a 14th round selection of the Phillies in the 2008 draft. Unlike many minor league relievers who were top-line starters as amateurs, Schwimer has been working out of the bullpen going all the way back to his college days at the University of Virginia.
“I’ve been a reliever for the last eight years of my life,” he tells KYW Newsradio. “Which is not usual at all, but it’s just one of those things. I was in college in a good program where we had good starting pitching, and the only way I could pitch was in the bullpen — so that’s what I did.”
The Alexandria, Va. native first made it to AAA last season, putting together a 1.35 ERA in 16 games for the Iron Pigs. He says the development of his changeup has helped make all his pitches better.
“I came in with a pretty good slider, that’s pretty much stayed the same throughout the course,” he says. “My angle has really improved on my fastball. I came in kind of throwing a flatter fastball, and now I’m really driving the ball down in the zone when I’m on — and I think that’s really helped.”
Hear Matt Leon’s full interview with Michael Schwimer in this CBS Philly SportsPod…
Schwimer has allowed just 28 hits in his 41⅓ innings with a head-turning 53 strikeouts. He says strikeouts are a goal for him when he comes out of the pen:
“To be honest with you — and I know this might be the wrong answer — I’m looking for swings and misses. I’m looking to strike people out. I think that that’s very important. Now I’m looking to strike people out while throwing strikes in the strike zone — I’m not looking to chase bad pitches or things like that. I’m looking to throw quality strikes.”
And he has done that nearly every time he has taken the mound this season. So, is he antsy being one step away from “The Show”?
“I used to be,” he admits. “Actually, last year I used to be when I had absolutely no shot. But this year, not really. This year, I’ve really, really stuck to ‘control what you can control.’ And I can’t control being called up. I can control every outing, how I pitch, every pitch I throw I can control, but I can’t control what people think of me. Whether they think I’m never going to be a Major League pitcher or they think I’m going to be ready to go tomorrow, I have no idea and I can’t control it, so I don’t really worry about it anymore.”
Reported by Matt Leon, KYW Newsradio 1060