He didn’t say it with Kyle Gibson’s Midwestern accent, but Nik Turley sure sounded a lot like Gibson after Thursday’s loss to the White Sox. Both pitchers are tall, both possess mid-90s fastballs, and both get in trouble when they can’t throw first-pitch strikes.
“I feel like I was trying to be too fine. I was trying to hit the corner instead of just being aggressive,” said Turley, virtually word-for-word as Gibson when he has a game where he’s constantly pitching from behind. “I know the stuff’s there. The stuff’s always been there. I’m just going to work as hard as I can to get it back.”
He’ll have to do it in Rochester, N.Y., of course, having been optioned back to Class AAA after his third straight short-start loss in three tries. This time, the rookie lefthander lasted only eight batters before Paul Molitor had seen enough, and he fell behind six of them. No shock here: Five of those hitters, able to sit on a fastball in the zone, collected hits, two of them homers.
“I feel like today it was a lot to do with my mentality. There’s no excuse. It’s just I went out there and I was a little cautious instead of pitching my game,” Turley said. “So, I started getting behind guys. I know if I get ahead and stay aggressive in the zone than I’ll be all right.”
It’s a lot easier to say than to do, of course, and nobody knows it better than Gibson, who has been battling that fall-behind plague for most of his career. But Turley had other problems, too. He rarely threw his curveball — not at all to the first five batters, actually — which was one of the points the Twins had emphasized to him before the game.
And his changeup wasn’t fooling anyone. “It was basically like a [batting practice] fastball. It was a 4- or 5-mph difference from my fastball instead of what you want. You want it to be around 10,” Turley said. “My curveball’s my best pitch, so I should have gone to it more. I regret not going to it.”
He didn’t sound regretful about the past two weeks, though, despite the disastrous (16.39 ERA) results. “I’m grateful for the opportunity,” said Turley, who spent nine seasons in the minors before getting his shot. “I hope to be back here soon.”