Lloyd, 25, was drafted in the twenty-ninth round of the 2013 draft by the Padres after a four-year career at the University of Evansville. The Purple Aces’ star had a big senior year where he struck out 99 in 94 innings with a 2.68 ERA.
He made his mark in 2014 with the TinCaps when he led the Padres’ organization in strikeouts with 155 strikeouts in 119.2 innings and a 3.61 ERA. Last season for the Storm he went back and forth between starting and relief and caught a little too much of the plate with 139 hits in 137.1 innings.
Whether or not he has a consistent third pitch has been an open question since he became a pro, but what he does throw is a very good two-seam fastball and an even better splitter; which is nearly impossible to hit when he is ahead in the count.
“He’s going to pitch in the big leagues,” said his manager Phillip Wellman on the big right-hander. “He’s going to have to tighten up his command some, but that splitter is an “out” pitch in any league.”
This year with the Padres short on starters at the upper levels, Lloyd has moved into the starting rotation.
Before moving into the rotation, he had a 22/5 strikeout to base-on-balls ratio and the opposition was hitting .211 against him. As a starter he has a 5.40 ERA with a 21/12 strikeout to base-on-balls ratio with the opposition hitting .315 against him.
What is the difference for you between starting and relieving? What parts of one do you like compared to the other?
Kyle Lloyd: I’m a big routine oriented guy so with starting I am able to get into a good groove. I know what I am going to do today, tomorrow and the next day. That is the biggest thing I enjoy about starting and the feeling that it is “your game.”
Being able to come out of the pen, you can’t do it everyday, so I can still get into a pretty good routine. It’s all routine based, its easier as a starter, but you can find a way to do it as a relief pitcher.
Basically I am going to take whatever they give me and run with it.
Coming out of the pen no one expects you to sequence pitches. You can go fastball/splitter and that’s it.
Kyle Lloyd: That is the nice thing about coming out of the pen. I can spin my slider if I want to or I can just go fastball/splitter.
Going through a lineup as a starter its more pitching, and you really have to adhere to a game plan. If I am showing him my splitter, do I go a slider here? It’s really a cat-and-mouse game compared to relief when its get the out now.
When I spoke to you a few years ago in Fort Wayne you were talking about a third pitch. Last year you started and relieved for the Storm. So I take it this year you are much more comfortable with a third pitch?
Kyle Lloyd: My slider from where I was in Fort Wayne has gotten much better. I know where I am going to throw it now. I’ve been able to develop it and have much more command of it.
In Fort Wayne it was really just two pitches and you can’t do that up here. I try to throw it early in the counts because I can throw it for strikes. Last year with Glendon [Rusch, the Storm pitching coach] we really worked on developing that pitch and it started to work for me.
My slider is not a big breaking slider its tighter, low to mid-80’s and its something I can throw down and away to righties and the opposite to lefties - and I can throw it for strikes or as a chase pitch.
How is your slider different from your two-seamer?
Kyle Lloyd: The two-seamer is going the other way. With JJ [Jimmie Jones, the Missions’ pitching coach] we were talking about two-seamer versus four-seamers. In my last outing I didn’t throw any four-seamers, everything was down and in to a righties. So I am trying to mix it up more.
Despite being pretty good size most of your success is about movement around the knees instead of pure velocity.
Kyle Lloyd: I am not going to light up a radar gun. It was better at the beginning of the year and it is what it is. If I do throw harder that is great, if I don’t then oh well. I just have to make sure I live around the knees.
For me it is about command and movement. You see a lot of guys in the big leagues that can put it wherever they want and that is where I am trying to get too.
In Fort Wayne you were pretty big - I think you told me 249 pounds at six-foot-four. I want to emphasize that you were “linebacker big” not fat. You’ve lost quite a bit of weight. Why?
Kyle Lloyd: I’m around 220 and 225. It is more lean muscle and less fat. It is something I did between Fort Wayne and Lake Elsinore. I just feel better out there with less weight.
So you are fine in the rotation or in the bullpen?
Kyle Lloyd: Whatever they want me to do that is fine. I know I can do both.
What was the biggest thing you wanted to work on coming into the year?
Kyle Lloyd: For me it was command. I walked four guys in one of my last outings but I know that was not me. I was able to correct it in my next side session.
Now that you are a starter are you ready to hit some Double-A pitching?
Kyle Lloyd: [laughing] I actually got a few at-bats and started to see some live pitching. It’s a little different from what I remember in high school.