Chism Glad To Be Where He Is

SAVANNAH, GA - Sand Gnats lefty reliever T.J. Chism has proven effective in his first year pitching in the closer's role. Approaching a 20 save season, Chism has already been named to the South Atlantic League All Star Team.

T.J. Chism has taken an unconventional path to being an effective reliever in the low minors. At La Salle University [where he hit .310 with 11 homers his junior year] he was a first baseman. But he knew his future in baseball was on the mound.

"I'm a smaller guy for a first baseman and I knew I was never going to hit 35 homers in the majors or anything," Chism admitted.

With his smaller size he pretty much knew he would be a relief pitcher in the professional ranks.

"Growing up I always threw pretty well naturally with good velocity, but I couldn't keep it going long enough to be a starter," he said.

For the 2011-12 offseason Chism stuck with the basic prep routine he had taken in years passed. The only difference was the additional attention paid to flexibility in his arms and legs.

"My basic goal was to come in ready to go on March 1st," Chism said, "and I wanted to develop the flexibility necessary to stay on the field for a great season and a run at the playoffs."

Chism has notched 18 saves in 44 appearances to go with a 2.39 ERA. But Chism says closing was never a role he specifically set his eyes on or that the organization is grooming him for that in the future.

"I pitched well and just sort of fell into the role when they had a closer spot open here," Chism said.

Even though finishing games was not the job Chism anticipated, he enjoys the pressure that accompanies it.

"I enjoy the feeling of having the game in my hands, as a closer you can either be the hero or lose the game," he added. ""Get three outs and the game is over."

Sand Gnats manager Luis Rojas says that Chism has pitched in several roles as a lefty specialist over the last few seasons. And while closing isn't necessarily what the Met's have in mind for Chism long-term, Chism's success closing this year makes him a candidate if any of his future teams have a need at the position.

Chism's effectiveness at closing this season has come without the typical closers velocity. Instead Chism uses what coach Rojas called a contact changeup to keep hitters off-balance in the late innings.

His other offerings include a fastball in the 86-88 mph range which he says "cuts and runs all over the place" as well as a curveball. Chism says his changeup is his favorite pitch and he has the confidence to throw it in any count. Coach Rojas thinks that Chism's change has been very important to his success.

"It's an advanced changeup. It's also a contact changeup, one he can get outs with early in the count," Rojas said.

Rojas also praises Chism for his split stats against left-handed hitters, saying they are good and need only slight improvement.

"He came in the other night in an important situation with runners on second and third with two out and punched out a lefty, getting another big out for us," Rojas said.

Chism's current arm slot and mechanics are not the ones with which he entered the professional ranks. They were developed in his second year of pro ball.

"Initially my slot varied but after I dropped into a low three-quarter arm slot my control got better and my pitches became more consistent," Chism said.

Chism also pitches off of the third base side of the rubber to compensate for a tendency to miss a certain distance to one side of the plate or another.

Closing presents some differences from middle or long relief. One of those is in controlling the running game which Chism said is reduced when he is pitching in a save situation.

"Most of the time when guys get on against me they don't run as much as they get bunted over and my move hasn't been the focus for me since the runners may already be in scoring position," Chism said.

Sand Gnats strength coach Jason Griffin says Chism has maintained a stable weight of 206 for the entire season.

According to Griffin, that bodes well for Chism from a metabolic standpoint and from a conditioning standpoint since it indicates that Chism is not being worn down over the course of the year.

Chism says his goals for the rest of the season coincide with maintaining the good habits that have produced his quality year thus far.

"I want to throw more strikes and have the confidence to throw any pitch in any count," Chism said.

Chism, who majored in Business Management while in college, appreciates the opportunity to play professional baseball. And although he plans to return and finish his degree when time allows, for now he is happy his day job is baseball and not something else.

"I'm glad I'm on the ball field and not somewhere in a suit and tie," Chism said.


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nT.J. Chism has taken an unconventional path to being an effective reliever in the low minors. At La Salle University [where he hit .310 with 11 homers his junior year] he was a first baseman. But he knew his future in baseball was on the mound.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm a smaller guy for a first baseman and I knew I was never going to hit 35 homers in the majors or anything,\" Chism admitted.
\r\n
\r\nWith his smaller size he pretty much knew he would be a relief pitcher in the professional ranks.
\r\n
\r\n\"Growing up I always threw pretty well naturally with good velocity, but I couldn't keep it going long enough to be a starter,\" he said.
\r\n
\r\nFor the 2011-12 offseason Chism stuck with the basic prep routine he had taken in years passed. The only difference was the additional attention paid to flexibility in his arms and legs.
\r\n
\r\n\"My basic goal was to come in ready to go on March 1st,\" Chism said, \"and I wanted to develop the flexibility necessary to stay on the field for a great season and a run at the playoffs.\"
\r\n
\r\nChism has notched 18 saves in 44 appearances to go with a 2.39 ERA. But Chism says closing was never a role he specifically set his eyes on or that the organization is grooming him for that in the future.
\r\n
\r\n\"I pitched well and just sort of fell into the role when they had a closer spot open here,\" Chism said.
\r\n
\r\nEven though finishing games was not the job Chism anticipated, he enjoys the pressure that accompanies it.
\r\n
\r\n\"I enjoy the feeling of having the game in my hands, as a closer you can either be the hero or lose the game,\" he added. \"\"Get three outs and the game is over.\"
\r\n
\r\nSand Gnats manager Luis Rojas says that Chism has pitched in several roles as a lefty specialist over the last few seasons. And while closing isn't necessarily what the Met's have in mind for Chism long-term, Chism's success closing this year makes him a candidate if any of his future teams have a need at the position.
\r\n
\r\nChism's effectiveness at closing this season has come without the typical closers velocity. Instead Chism uses what coach Rojas called a contact changeup to keep hitters off-balance in the late innings.
\r\n
\r\nHis other offerings include a fastball in the 86-88 mph range which he says \"cuts and runs all over the place\" as well as a curveball. Chism says his changeup is his favorite pitch and he has the confidence to throw it in any count. Coach Rojas thinks that Chism's change has been very important to his success.
\r\n
\r\n\"It's an advanced changeup. It's also a contact changeup, one he can get outs with early in the count,\" Rojas said.
\r\n
\r\nRojas also praises Chism for his split stats against left-handed hitters, saying they are good and need only slight improvement.
\r\n
\r\n\"He came in the other night in an important situation with runners on second and third with two out and punched out a lefty, getting another big out for us,\" Rojas said.
\r\n
\r\nChism's current arm slot and mechanics are not the ones with which he entered the professional ranks. They were developed in his second year of pro ball.
\r\n
\r\n\"Initially my slot varied but after I dropped into a low three-quarter arm slot my control got better and my pitches became more consistent,\" Chism said.
\r\n
\r\nChism also pitches off of the third base side of the rubber to compensate for a tendency to miss a certain distance to one side of the plate or another.
\r\n
\r\nClosing presents some differences from middle or long relief. One of those is in controlling the running game which Chism said is reduced when he is pitching in a save situation.
\r\n
\r\n\"Most of the time when guys get on against me they don't run as much as they get bunted over and my move hasn't been the focus for me since the runners may already be in scoring position,\" Chism said.
\r\n
\r\nSand Gnats strength coach Jason Griffin says Chism has maintained a stable weight of 206 for the entire season.
\r\n
\r\nAccording to Griffin, that bodes well for Chism from a metabolic standpoint and from a conditioning standpoint since it indicates that Chism is not being worn down over the course of the year.
\r\n
\r\nChism says his goals for the rest of the season coincide with maintaining the good habits that have produced his quality year thus far.
\r\n
\r\n\"I want to throw more strikes and have the confidence to throw any pitch in any count,\" Chism said.
\r\n
\r\nChism, who majored in Business Management while in college, appreciates the opportunity to play professional baseball. And although he plans to return and finish his degree when time allows, for now he is happy his day job is baseball and not something else.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm glad I'm on the ball field and not somewhere in a suit and tie,\" Chism said.
\r\n
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