Through a month and a half of the season, Tyler Waldron did some serious suitcase living.
After starting the season pitching in six games with Bradenton, Waldron made a relief appearance after being promoted to Altoona on April 24. When Casey Sadler was recalled by Pittsburgh, Waldron was promoted to Indianapolis for an emergency start three days later on April 27. With all of the uniforms that Waldron has put on in 2014, there is one thing that he has not lacked – consistent success.
“Everything feels good and is going in the right direction,” Waldron said. “I just keep working hard every day and whenever my name gets called, I try to go out and put up a zero.”
Waldron has put up plenty of zeros this campaign. In 22.2 innings, Waldron boasts a 1.19 ERA with just nine hits and four walks. In addition, Waldron has struck out 25 hitters over the span. Opposing batters are hitting just .122 against him this season and he has a ground ball to fly ball ratio of 1.93.
Waldron works with an arsenal that includes a two seam fastball, a cutter, curve ball and a changeup. While he lives in the low 90s, Waldron is aware that he must keep the ball down and rely on movement to get hitters out.
“I am a contact guy,” Waldron said. “I want to keep the ball down and keep it on the ground on the infield. When I have a chance to put someone away, I am definitely going to try to expand the strike zone and try to get a swing and miss for strike three.”
The cutter is something that Waldron has been working on recently and he said that he “has picked it up pretty quickly.” Depending on the feel that day, Waldron will utilize the pitch as a cutter or a slider. With the command that he has acquired with the pitch, he named it as his most comfortable weapon.
Indianapolis pitching coach Tom Filer sees the cutter as a major reason for Waldron’s resurgence.
“I have really been impressed with [Waldron], coming up here and doing what he has done,” Filer said. “He has the ability with this cutter thing that has turned his career around. He has really come into his own with that.”
Along with the individual pitches, Filer is extremely pleased with the command that Waldron has shown in Indianapolis. The stats back up what Filer has seen, as Waldron has thrown 64 percent of his pitches for strikes in Triple-A.
“I like that he is able get into the left-handers and command that ball,” Filer said. “That is the biggest part of being able to pitch here is to command certain pitches. He has been able to do that and that is what really impresses me.”
Filer also said that they have been working with Waldron on being quicker to the plate in an effort to control the opposing running game. He said that this transition has been successful and “he hasn’t skipped a beat and looks even more comfortable.”
Outside of the work on the mound, Waldron said that last season he learned the importance of taking care of his body. After dealing with nagging injuries, Waldron had a 5.57 ERA in 13 games between Altoona and Bradenton. He allowed 42 hits in 32.1 innings. He also spent a great deal of time on the DL. In order to stay healthier, Waldron put in the work during the offseason to put him in the position he is in 2014.
“Being on the DL for about three months last year taught me a lot about how to take care of a shoulder,” Waldron said. “I did a lot of strengthening stuff in the offseason and cleaning up my mechanics. It has transitioned to this year with cleaner mechanics than what I was dealing with.”
Waldron is also benefitting from finding a routine that works for him on the off days during the grind of the season. He said that relieving may be part of this transition and a major reason why he feels healthier.
For Waldron, he is not satisfied with the leaps that he has made in 2014. He is always looking for more and will not stop until he gets to the top.
“I started out this season with a plan,” Waldron said. “I have tried to pitch with a little chip on my shoulder. It is about just never being satisfied where you’re at. All I care about is going out there and putting up a zero. If I give up a hit or walk a guy, as long as they don’t touch home plate, I did my job.”