McNab Off to a Strong Start

In his third season in the Binghamton Mets bullpen, Tim McNab has become the fireman. The arm manager Mako Oliveras and pitching coach Ricky Bones count on for not just one or two outs, but two or three innings. Inside Pitch revisited McNab to see how he has progressed.

Entering Wednesday, Tim McNab boasted a team-leading 1.85 earned run average. accompanied by a 4-0 record. His effectiveness has earned him the most innings, 39, of any non-starting pitcher. His strikeouts total, 18, does not turn many heads, but his walks total, six, should.

"Throwing strikes, it's what they preach in spring training through the offseason, through everything," McNab said. "I'm a guy that enjoys contact, I'm not out there trying to strike everybody out. The key for me is to keep the ball down, throw strikes and let some of the guys behind me do the real tough stuff."

The right-hander, who turns 27 in under a week, was the Mets' 22nd-round draft pick in 2002. McNab has seen his role change over the years: for Florida Atlantic University, Brooklyn and Capital City, McNab was a closer, earning 12 saves as a senior at FAU and 11 in 2003 with the Bombers. But when it became apparent that McNab could handle a heavy workload, he shifted from ninth-inning duties to a long-relief and spot-starting.

Last season, McNab made three spot starts for the B-Mets, with an ERA of 1.23 in those outings. From 2004 through the present, McNab has had one save each season, and may add more this year if B-Mets closer Carlos Muniz is unavailable. But utilizing his physical resilience to help the rest of the bullpen is how McNab sees himself most serviceable.

"To me it helps out our bullpen to where a starter can go five or six innings and I can go the seventh or eighth, or six, seven, eight, nine—it saves arms, since I have the stamina to do that, it benefits myself and it's a benefit to the bullpen," McNab said.

McNab throws three pitches, a four- and two-seam fastball and a slider. Since he throws so often, most of his work with Bones does not take place in bullpen sessions, but through discussion.

"We just do regular routines and try to stay down in the zone, and make sure he doesn't get too strong, because he relies on his movement," Bones said. "You don't want to go into the game overthrowing the ball, we just stay more verbal and work on repetition."

The crafty righty is less heard of than the crafty lefty, but Bones and McNab are making the formula work.

"You don't need to strike people out, you need to get people out," Bones said.

"By pitching ahead in the count and inducing contact, that's the kind of result you're going to have, you're going to have good numbers because you induced contact—they put the ball in play and you let the defense play behind you. Most of the time the hitters going to strike themselves out."

McNab was with Triple-A Norfolk for the final two weeks of 2006, throwing seven innings and giving up five runs. A taste of what's beyond can always inspire harder work.

"You want to be up there obviously," McNab explained. "They say in Double-A you got all the prospects, in Triple-A you got men. There's a little bit of both obviously, but it was a great experience, getting to know some of the work ethic of some of these older guys.

"I mean, yeah, it was disappointing not to go to Triple-A, but I knew coming out of spring that there were also not too many spots," he continued. "So all you can do is come down here, you can't fret about it, you can't really bad mouth anybody, you got to pitch."

He is pitching all right—the best he ever has.

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