Q&A: Taylor Sinclair Succeeds Without Speed

Taylor Sinclair went undrafted out of Northern Iowa, largely because his fastball tops out in the mid-80s. But he signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks last summer, and has since shown that he can get guys out in a variety of roles. That success was punctuated in Saturday's four shutout innings of one-hit ball in relief during the South Bend Silver Hawks' come-from-behind 7-3 win.

Last summer, Taylor Sinclair was signed out of the Frontier League, where he had a 1.93 ERA in four games, and joined the Missoula Osprey.  That August, Sinclair took a no-hitter into the eighth inning. He finished the year 5-2 with a 3.07 ERA playing for the Osprey, and was twice named Pioneer League Pitcher of the Week.

This year, three of Sinclair's first six appearances were starts while three came in relief.  FutureBacks caught up with Sinclair after his longest outing of the season May 2nd - oddly, a game in which he was used in relief.  Sinclair allowed no runs and just one hit over four relief innings.  For the season, he has struck out 15 batters n 12.2 innings of work, culminating in a 3.55 ERA.

FutureBacks.com: Having bounced around in a variety of roles this year, has it been tough not knowing whether you're going to start or relieve n a given day?

Taylor Sinclair: It's alright.  You've just got to adjust, go out and throw when you get a chance.  I know I was going to be a starter for a while and going to be a reliever for a while.  You've just got to throw well when you get out there.

FB: Obviously, you did that today.  What was working for you?

TS: Pretty much everything.  Just working both sides of the plate, using all the offspeed pitches, trying to get ahead in the count, and letting them put the ball in play.

FB: Have you always pitched with such a low arm angle?

TS: No, it's gotten progressively lower as my career has gone on.  in college, i was more of a three-quarters guy, but now I'm more of a sidearm guy.  That's just naturally where it goes, I guess.

FB: Do you find that right-handers tend to see you a little bit better because of the angle?

TS: Yeah, I definitely think I have an advantage against lefties.  Righties definitely see me a little bit better, as you can probably tell from the stats.  I just try to work both sides of the plate with them, mix in the changeup, and keep the ball down in the zone.

FB: So, not being a high-velocity guy, is changing speeds or location the most important component of success?

TS: Oh, I think both.  Mixing in-and-out, having four pitches I can throw for a strike, are big things when you only throw in the mid-80s.

FB: Going back to the Independent League, who else was scouting you besides the Diamondbacks?

TS: I don't think anyone was.  They had spoken to me and told me to go play Independent Ball and they would keep an eye on me.  If I played ell, they would call me up.  After, what, four starts, they called me up and sent me to Montana.

FB: Didn't you then flirt with a no-hitter last year?

TS: Yeah... I took a no-hitter into the eighth inning and I think the first guy got a hit.  That was pretty cool.

FB: Do you think that start opened some eyes and allowed you to start this year at a full-season club?

TS: Yeah, I had a pretty good year in Montana.  I had success as a starter, and being left-handed, and I had a pretty good spring.  I think that all helped me get on a full-season team. 

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