Consistency, determination, and poise are all elements coaches hope to see from their players and which players expect from themselves. Tim McNab, a veteran of the Mets' system, displays those characteristics as he forges ahead, eager to grasp every rung of success up the ladder.
He has adorned many roles during his career and has pitched whenever and wherever asked. This off-season, and onto Opening Day, he developed a stronger sense of his capabilities as he focused on the maturation of his repertoire. Content with the progress he made in March, he broke camp with a great amount of satisfaction in his game, as well his standing in the organization.
Club officials notified him that if not for a small number of late adjustments to the New Orleans roster, he would have received his first invitation to Triple-A. Despite his assignment to Binghamton, he has no remorse or hard feelings about the decision and is revved up to tackle the Eastern League with his fine tuned arsenal.
"I had a great spring and a great camp. I know how things could have fallen out, but that's how the game is done. I know I can play there, and although I was bumped down, I am here and I can take care of my work. I have no complaints about spring, I feel real good, I performed well, and I'm happy to get the season started," he said.
As a pitcher who does not rely much at all on strikeouts, he generates outs by pitching for contact and putting his faith in the defense behind him. He racked up just 31 strikeouts in 50 2/3 innings tossed across three levels. However, thanks to his steady control, he issued just two walks.
The majority of his innings came in Binghamton where he posted a 3.34 ERA. Opponents hit a robust .312 against him, but that can be attributed to the amount of groundballs he allows. That statistic displays how important strong defense is related his success. These factors made him concentrate this winter on the execution of his pitches and the ability to attack the lower half of the strike zone.
"I emphasized getting my changeup down. I want to maximize all my pitches down. I think the coaches and staff saw what I was doing, the success I was having, which helped my consideration to the Triple-A squad. But the big league team comes first, so I took the assignment and went with it," he said.
The pitch he keyed on most was his changeup. It continues to mold as he increases the amount of times it is thrown. "I'm a sinkerball pitcher, but that was the area I really worked on. A few years ago I struggled with my change, but now I can throw it pretty much whenever I want," he said.
He got a rude lesson during the exhibition contests as he attacked big leaguers with his off-speed pitch. He quickly realized how much work was left. He admitted his changeup got knocked around pretty good, but it allowed him to understand the required precision when he throws it - as well as his full repertoire.
"Pitching to (the big leaguers) really showed me how crucial every pitch can be and how harmful mistakes can be. I've got make sure if my intention is ‘changeup away', I get it away, because those kind of mistakes will only get hit harder the better the hitters get," he explained.
He spent time in bullpen sessions with Billy Wagner where he watched how the Mets closer approached counts and pitch selection. He noticed how much pride and effort the veterans and big leaguers possess in their work ethic and mirror much of his work this spring after them. He observed how a player like Joe Smith has adapted the right tools which permitted him make the climb he has.
While he has made strides with his command, he still needs to shake off the inconsistencies of last year. The 62 hits he gave up is a higher number than many would like to see, especially from a guy on the cusp of what could be a breakout season. The ground balls work for McNab, but he must avoid stringing them together and extending innings. Eliminating rallies will strengthen his resolve which is important for a heavily relied upon relief pitcher.
"I've got to trust myself and know that I'm here for a reason. Not everything is going to go well 100% of the time. These hitters are talented and they're going get their hits. I may make a great pitch and it will get hammered. I have to trust that everything I do is as I intended to do it," he detailed. "Knowing what I need to do and actually doing it, is a great sign of where my game is."
Nonetheless, coaches expect McNab to anchor the B-Mets bullpen this season. A role he embraces and sees as his ticket to success.
Aside from his own game, McNab welcomes another role, that of a clubhouse leader. Now in his third year in Binghamton, he knows what a positive effect his attitude and knowledge can have in the clubhouse. With a roster chalked with young players, he enjoys his position as a source of wisdom for many guys.
"With new faces around, and as one of the older guys, I'll offer any help I can. Whether in the locker room, or the bullpen, it's something I feel totally at ease with taking on. We have an exciting, young Double-A team. It's going to be a fun year," he said.
Not only could this be a fun year for McNab, but it stands to be his most captivating. Consistent and efficient performances could earn him a stay with the Zephyrs; an invitation that becomes more apparent with each passing month.
"I need to get to the point where everything I need to be doing, I'm doing, so I can set myself up for further call ups. I've had the mentality, no where I was playing, I was always one step from the Majors. No matter I was playing, I was always close," he finished.
McNab Set to Rise
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