David Palladino continues to work on his strike-throwing but the bullpen seems to suit him.

STATEN ISLAND, NY -- Entering his fourth season of professional baseball this year, David Palladino has bounced around the Yankees farm system consistently. This year though, he looks to establish himself in Staten Island pitching out of the bullpen and producing strong results as he put up in Pulaski last season.

For Palladino, his career got off to a slow start – in his first two seasons, he struggled somewhat with the Staten Island Yankees, recording a 4.67 ERA his first season in 2013, and an ERA of 3.72 the following year. 

In 2015, he had his share of ups and downs too.  Spending time with Charleston, he struggled early on, pitching to a 4.57 ERA in 18 appearances for the team while accruing a WHIP of just over 1.50.  After being assigned to play for a Yankees Gulf Coast League team, he played in only two games there before getting sent to Pulaski. 

While in Pulaski, he was dominant.  Pitching a total of 25 innings, he struck out 25 batters and held them to an opposing clip of .223.  Additionally, he went 4-0 and maintained a strong 2.88 ERA.    

This year, he spent six games in Charleston earlier this season but was then sent back to Staten Island, now his third time with the team.

“It’s tough, without a doubt, you have to understand that this is a business at the end of the day, and they’re not going to promote you if you’re not pitching well…It’s just going out there and showing I can go attack hitters from pitch one and moving forward.  Rather than having a couple good outings and a couple bad outings, it’s a progression,” commented Palladino when discussing the challenges associated with advancement throughout the farm system.

This season had been a big turning point for Palladino, as he begins to adjust to his new role as a reliever.  After spending most of his time as a starting pitcher last year and in previous seasons, this transition was very difficult in the beginning in any some ways still is as his most recent outing [0.2 IP, 5 BB, 2 ER] shows. 

“It’s kind of just learning and adjusting to a new mindset of only being able to throw about seven pitches in the bullpen before you’re called into the game," he said, "so I had to figure out how to warm up, how to make sure I’m prepared; really learning how to be ready to come in no matter who’s on base, or what hitter I’m facing and being able to execute pitches from the first pitch on.”

The Staten Island Yankees coaching staff believes Palladino is starting to feel more comfortable in his new role with Friday night's meltdown notwithstanding.  pitching coach Travis Phelps acknowledged in particular how Palladino’s repertoire fits well for relieving.

“He’s got a power arm and a power slider, so as long as he throws strikes and pitches down in the bottom of the zone, it’s going to be very tough for hitters to hit him,” Phelps said.

Starting pitchers will tend to develop more pitches than relievers, since they face hitters more often throughout a game, and for Palladino, he is making that modification this year.  Typically a three-pitch pitcher, he is now trimming his arsenal to two pitches as he continues to acclimate to relieving.

“I have a pretty good changeup but I can’t say I’ve used it [much]," Palladino said.  "I’ve been working on it a lot, and that’s definitely a pitch that I want to use more than I have been, [but recently] I am sticking to what’s been working, and sticking to my strength, which is my fastball and slider.”

As Palladino continues to assume his bullpen fixture, his arm seems to be handling the switch smoothly. 

“I feel like my velocity is coming back a little bit.  I’ve been throwing harder recently, and being out there for 1-2 innings, I can definitely go out there and not worry about saving anything.”

Additionally, SI Yankees manager Dave Bialas is confident that Palladino is right where he needs to be going forward. 

“I think this is a good role for him," Bialas said.  "He’s a power reliever, a power pitcher with a power breaking ball. I’m not saying he can’t start someday, he could do that, but right now he’s getting plenty of work out of the bullpen, and with a power arm like he has, he can move fast. I like him as a reliever, I think that’s his future, but he definitely has the arm to be a starter also.”

Although he’s only pitched in eleven games for the SI Yankees so far in 2016, he’s off to a very good start.  Through 22 1/3 innings pitched, he has 31 strikeouts and a 3.22 ERA, while simultaneously holding opposing hitters to a batting average of only .173.  Despite the success, he still needs to be wary of his command, as he has also walked 18 over that span. 

Cumulatively, Palladino seems to be honing in on his pitches better in his new spot and improving every time he’s out on the mound. 

Phelps believes that Palladino is in line for continued success, so long as he keeps challenging hitters and being dependable. 

“He’s got Major League stuff right now, I think it’s just a matter of him finding that consistency in the zone, and attacking the hitters day in and day out," Phelps concluded.

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