Tatusko looking to add two-seamer

Ryan Tatusko spent much of the 2008 season moving between Single-A Clinton's bullpen and starting rotation. The right-hander had success as a starter, posting a 3.67 ERA in 83.1 innings. Lone Star Dugout recently sat down with Tatusko for a Q&A session.

In terms of wins and losses, Ryan Tatusko hasn't caught a break in his first two seasons of professional baseball. Despite a 4.35 ERA with short-season Spokane and Single-A Clinton in 2007 and 2008, the right-hander has just a 6-18 record.

Many experts argue that wins and losses for a pitcher are largely irrelevant due to a game's heavy dependence on defense and hitting. The same rings true in the player development process..

Tatusko's 3.84 second-half ERA with Clinton this past summer overshadowed his 2-8 record. The 23-year-old had a 2.61 ERA during a five start stretch between late-July and early-August. The stretch yielded just one win.

With 16 starts and 16 relief appearances, Tatusko's 2008 campaign appeared to be a tale of two seasons. After surrendering just four runs on four hits in 15 April innings [with 12 walks], Tatusko struggled mightily in May and June. Though his walks decreased towards the latter part of the season's first half, he became significantly more hittable.

The former 18th round pick was able to find a happy medium after the Midwest League's All-Star break. Not only was Tatusko able to cut his walk rate in half [from 23 BB in 40.1 IP to 19 BB in 72.2 IP], but he also remained difficult to hit [.260 BAA].

Lone Star Dugout recently caught up with the pitcher for a Q&A session regarding his 2008 season.

Jason Cole: What are your thoughts on your first full season of pro ball?

Ryan Tatusko: My first full season was long. I think getting through it mentally was tougher than physically. You have to keep pushing yourself as the season winds down, and the hardest part is not thinking about the end, but instead about your next outing.

Cole: You went between starting and relieving a couple of times during the season. What is that like, having to make that transition during the year?

Tatusko: It's more mentally draining than anything. Starting and relieving are two totally different ways of thinking and pitching. Being able to constantly adjust to it was a little tough at first. I think I started to adapt better as the season wore on, and I think that starting and relieving in Clinton is just going to help me as I continue my career. I'm glad I got to work through it in Low-A rather than trying to adjust to it at the higher levels.

Cole: Last time we spoke, you mentioned that the Rangers saw you as a seventh or eighth inning guy when they drafted you. Do you know if that has changed?

Tatusko: I haven't heard anything differently as of right now, so I'm still assuming that is where they still want me. I'm sure they will tell me something again this spring training, but wherever they want, I know more consistency will have to be the key for me this year.

Cole: You had a strong second half, with a 3.84 ERA, but you were just 2-8 during that time. Though it was mostly bad luck, does the record ever creep into your mind? If so, what must you do to block it out?

Tatusko: It does every once in awhile. No matter how hard you try and block it out, it creeps in. For me, I knew deep down that when I took the ball, I felt like I was giving my team a chance to win and that is really all I could ask of myself.

To block it out, it was big for me to think about it that night, realize my mistakes, and focus on not making those in my next outing. I just want to become more consistent.

Cole: How do you feel you progressed as a pitcher this season?

Tatusko: I think the biggest area that I improved on this year was attacking batters no matter what count I was in. I think in my college career, and very early in the Clinton season, I would get behind 2-0 and 3-1 and I would focus on not getting beaten too badly. As I progressed through the season, I realized I was getting beaten even worse because my mindset was changing. I started to attack no matter what count I was in and found that my walks went down a lot. I found myself getting out of jams that I previously was getting beaten in.

Cole: You held righties to a .256 clip this year and lefties to a .255 average. However, your ground ball rate against lefties [2.64 groundouts per flyout] was over three times more than it was against right-handers [0.74]. Do you feel that there is something behind that?

Tatusko: I think that since my fastball cuts in on lefties, I'm getting in on their hands more, whereas righties are staying on the ball and flipping it to right field. This year, I am going to work on a two-seamer to throw to righties to combat this issue.

Cole: Have you ever thrown a two-seam fastball in the past?

Tatusko: I've never thrown a two-seamer. I have a friend that pitches for the Florida Marlins organization and he has a nasty one. He has agreed to help me, so I am interested to see how it's going to work out for me.

Cole: When I talked to you around mid-season, you mentioned that your four-seam fastball had picked up some cutting action on it. When did that start happening?

Tatusko: It started happening in spring training. I raised my arm angle ever so slightly to get a little more on top of the baseball. I guess that up there, my hand must pronate a little to get a cutter action. I really like the action it has – I just hope I can develop this two-seamer to give a different look.

Cole: A lot of guys suffer inconsistent velocity in their first full season. Did you have any troubles with that this past year?

Tatusko: I was pretty consistent anywhere from the 88-93 range. Most days it was 89-92. I am a little down in velocity from college, but I didn't have the cut action that I do now. I almost like having the better movement and a little less velo.

Cole: How did you feel about your slider and changeup this year?

Tatusko: I thought my slider was very good. It actually morphed into a curveball, which I liked even more. My changeup continued to develop, but as the year went on, I threw it more and I got to feel very comfortable with it. I got to a point where I wasn't worried about throwing it in counts where I was behind.

Cole: Since the slider turned into a curve, was it more like a power curveball? Can you talk a little about the break and velocity that you were getting on it?

Tatusko: The break was a 1-7 break. It was a power curve for me. I was throwing it anywhere from 80-83 and I felt very comfortable with it.


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