Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Schmidt Takes League By Storm

Josh Schmidt has quickly impressed Staten Island Yankee fans with his ability to shutdown opponents.

Drafted out of Pacific University, the 6-4 closer has been a thorn in the side of opposing batters. In 25 appearances, Schmidt's dominated allowing just a run along with a microscopic 0.28 ERA, fanning 46 in 32 innings. On whether he considers himself a strikeout pitcher, he didn't seem to think so but 'sometimes they happen.' Schmidt has also posted a 5-1 record with 12 saves holding opponents to a paltry .132.

The sinkerballer attributes his success to execution. "I think I've been making some quality pitches," said Schmidt. "Staying down in the zone and keeping the ball on the infield pretty much. I try not to give up long fly balls because once in a while, long fly balls go out of the yard."

Schmidt considers himself a ground ball pitcher who relies on movement to retire batters which makes it harder for them to be successful. "A lot of guys don't want to swing at anything down in the zone because it can chip their bats," he added. "I try to get two strikes more often and obviously keep moving the ball in and out. Change speeds."

With the playoffs coming up, he seemed excited about the challenge of being called on in pressure situations to finish games. "I feel ready," said Schmidt. "My arm feels good. I feel ready to go."

Schmidt didn't mind having to pitch three straight days either if manager Andy Stankiewicz needs him to in the playoffs. "My arm hasn't felt tired yet," he said. "I'm at least willing to try it if they'll let me do it."

If the 22-year-old Californian continues to pitch well, he could climb up the ladder of the Yankee organization rapidly. He's watched the best closer in the business Mariano Rivera dominate for a decade. Could he be the future Yankee closer? Keeping things in perspective, Schmidt didn't get ahead of himself.

"Obviously, that would be fun but I'll do whatever they want me to," noted Schmidt. "It's not my call. It's theirs. Everyone keeps saying that. It's a little for that. This is A Ball here."

Until then, Schmidt will continue to do whatever it takes to win ballgames for Staten Island.

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