Q & A with Travis Blackley

Promising LHP Travis Blackley took 10 minutes last night to talk to InsidethePark about his recent success on the diamond, the development of his offspeed pitches and his unending desire to get to the big leagues. Will Blackley be the next pitcher called up to the show? Only time will tell. Subscribe to InsidethePark now and see what candid remarks this future star had to say about his future.

How good has Travis Blackley been over the last six weeks? REAL GOOD. The 21-year-old lefty has won five-straight decisions and done it without full use of his best pitch - the changeup - in the process. Oh, and he gave up just one run at home in his first 20 innings of work at Cheney Stadium, good for a 0.45 ERA. Read on for more on the talented Aussie.

InsidethePark.com: Last we talked, it was about a month ago and you said your changeup was starting to come around and you were starting to pitch better. Where are you at now with your changeup?

Travis Blackley: The changeup is still not there. I'm getting away with keeping it straight and just change of pace. We worked on it today and it was really good in the pen so hopefully I can take it into the next game.

ITP.com: So are you locating it okay?

Blackley: I can locate it. It's just straight. Most people throw their changeups like I throw it now, kind of straight like a fastball. But my changeup, when it works best, comes in like a screwball. I haven't got that back yet. It's still working, I'm just not throwing it as much. But in a way it's good because I'm relying on my slider and curveball more. Now they are becoming more polished pitches.

ITP.com: How much better are your curve and slider from this time last year?

Blackley: The curveball is a lot better. I can throw it for a strike. I can throw it for a ball. I can throw it at 72 or throw it harder at 78. I throw it a lot more. I must have thrown 20 curveballs last game, 20 sliders, 10 changeups and then the rest fastballs.

The guys I'm playing against right now I've played with ever year and they've always known me as a fastball-changeup guy with average breaking pitches. (Wednesday) I went at them with two above average breaking pitches and a decent changeup. I could tell the way they took swings that it wasn't what they were used to seeing from me.

ITP.com: With the improvement of your curve and slider, does it complicate the way you pitch? Is it harder to know what to use at certain times?

Blackley: I think if I locate my pitches they are all good enough to get outs. I'm not worried about getting a strikeout. If I need a strikeout or a pop fly than I'll try to get it, but I'm pretty much just trying to keep us in the game. That's all you can ask for.

ITP.com: So now, two months into the season, is there anything in particular that you're focusing on improving on?

Blackley: I want to improve the location of my pitches to both sides of the plate, and I'm pretty much getting it. I make mistakes, everyone does. But I'm getting better. Walks are getting better for me. I think keeping it down to one or two walks a game is the goal.

ITP.com: How much do you think about getting called up to the Mariners?

Blackley: Every day (laughs). I just want it that bad that I think about it too much. I don't think about it when I'm pitching. I just say to myself, "Well, go out and have another good game and see if it gets you up that time."

I think if you are good enough to be there and somebody - just because they are on the roster or something - isn't doing as good of a job, they shouldn't be there. But that's politics. It's not up to me, if it was I'd be there right now.

ITP.com: When Nageotte got the call to the bigs last Friday, did that play with your mind at all knowing he beat you there? Did it make you want it more?

Blackley: I always figured he would being on the 40-man (roster). I'm happy for him. He called and said, "Hey, we need to get you and Bobby up here."

I'd like to be up there, but I guess I just have to do better.

ITP.com: If you keep up your current pace, do you think you're in line for a promotion soon?

Blackley: It's hard to keep going at the pace I'm going right now [he has won five-straight decisions]. I still don't even feel like I've had a really good game yet. The one game against the Omaha Royals was my best line, seven innings with nine strikeouts. I think that and the seven inning shutout I had during the double-header was another good game. I feel comfortable enough to win, but not quite there.

ITP.com: How much do hear the media and fans out there talking about the Mariners calling up the young prospects like yourself?

Blackley: A fair bit because my girlfriend's mom and grandparents listen on the radio all the time from Wichita. Her family is really interested in how I do. They always are on the phone saying this or that. She always says don't listen to that.

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