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Spot starts and pitching multiple innings became the role for the young 23-year-old right-hander with the Charleston Riverdogs last season. He posted a 4-3 record with an impressive 1.81 ERA. While some pitchers expect to have set roles with their club, Eric Wordekemper is enjoying the experience.
"It could be a downside sometimes, if you're used to one role and then your switched to another," he said. "Overall I haven't had too many problems with it. It allows me to be a bit more versatile, just like positional players. If you're versatile it allows you to get more playing time."
This season for Tampa, Wordekemper is enjoying yet another challenge, taking over as the team's closer. It was a role that he didn't foresee in his future but nonetheless he's turning heads with a strong start. His eight saves puts him fourth in the Florida State League and his 0.69 ERA is a clear indication to just how good he's been.
"It's an adrenaline rush," he said. "I always feel up for a challenge and I'm enjoying the role very much."
Not blessed with the traditional closers' mid-90's fastball, Wordekemper does posses perhaps the most important trait, a strong mound presence. It's something that he takes to the rubber each and every time.
"I feel as a pitcher you have to be very confident with what you're doing out there or the batter will get the better half of you," he said. "So I just try to prepare myself to be mentally tough whenever I go out there. I believe it pays off."
Wordekemper's go-to off speed pitch is his slider. Always thinking of ways to improve himself, he would like to get some more consistency with that pitch.
"I still need to get it sharper," he said. "Being the closer I only get one inning, so it's tough to work on it consistently. But overall it's getting there. It's much improved and starting to feel better."
Of all the different ways Wordekemper can help a ball club, in his mind he sees himself contributing as a middle reliever.
"I like middle, long relief the most, throwing two or three innings and trying to get into a groove. I enjoyed starting last year. Ultimately down the road, I hope to be middle relief."
With all of Wordekemper's versatility, the Tampa Yankees are more than happy sending him of the bullpen to secure them wins right now.
Versatility Key to Wordekemper's Success
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