It looks like you've turned a corner. Your last four starts, including [Saturday night], have been impressive. 7 strikeouts, 8 strikeouts, 9 strikeouts, 11 strikeouts. What's changed for you?
I would just say my approach. I was getting hit around. I wasn't able to spot up my fastball. I was leaving it down the middle. Guys were driving it over the fence and in the gaps. These last few starts, me and Donnie (Alexander)have been working really hard at developing that fastball and spotting it even better, and elevating it when I want to. Ever since I started doing that, I've been getting more strikeouts and less hits. Everything's just coming around right now.
What took so long?
I don't know. I mean, that's the long season for you. Sometimes it takes a while to figure out the little things, and that's all it was. Luckily, we got it going on at the right time. I think it's perfect timing.
How'd you feel when you found out you were going to start game one of the playoffs?
It felt great. It was definitely a good confidence booster; the coaching staff trusts me to go out there and start us down the right road for the playoffs, and try to get them the first win. Fortunately, we did. The team played great. It's the first of five more wins.
We're used to seeing a lot of offense here - a lot of home runs, doubles in the gap. [On Saturday night], every run for the Jethawks came on an out. As a pitcher, is it nice to have an offense that will play small ball; do whatever they can to get you some support?
Sometimes we're not going to be able to hit six home runs a game. We're not going to score fifteen runs a game. So we gotta be able to do those little things, and we can. That's what this team does right. We know how to play baseball the right way. We just know how to win, and that's what we did [on Satuirday].
I have this theory that being a Friday night starter at a big program helps in these high-profile playoff games. Would you agree with that?
Yeah, definitely. It's definitely not the first big game or the first playoff game I've pitched in my life. Arizona State definitely helped me in my career to go through these pressure situations. Pitching in a regional game, pitching in a Super Regional game, in the college World Series, and Friday nights at a big program definitely helps you out in your career.
How did you feel about Rodney (Linares) taking you out in favor of Kenny (Long) before you faced Mitchell?
I kind of saw that coming. I saw Kenny warming up before that inning. And I knew Workman, who's a righty, was up. I figured I was going to face him and that's it, because there's two lefties and then one righty and then lefties again. I wouldn't give the ball to anyone else except Kenny against a lefty. Lefties can't hit him for some reason. It's awesome. So, to give the ball to him and Ballew... That'll do it every single time.
One last thing I wanted to talk about. At Arizona State, you weren't a huge strikeout guy. 79 strikeouts in 115 innings your junior year. This year, you seem to be transitioning more into that. What adjustments have you made coming into pro ball?
I'm not sure. At ASU, it was just throw it at the hitters, let them get themselves out. Here, I gotta be more of a pitcher and use all of my offspeed stuff. Mostly, in college, guys don't have the great approach that these professional hitters do. I really haven't changed much. Maybe the wind here makes my ball move a little bit more. Whatever it is, hopefully it continues.
Everyone in the pressbox collectively said it was the best they've seen you all year. That curveball looked really sharp last night.
I had all my pitches last night. That's great. I said yesterday in an interview, normally as a starter you only have one or two pitches working for you. It's definitely fun when all of them are working for you.
Thank you for your time. Good luck the rest of the way.