Left-handed pitcher Tom Windle was a key acquisition last off-season for the Phillies. Part of the return from Los Angeles for Jimmy Rollins, the six-foot-four 215-pounder came into the season as a promising starter, but after some concerning results through half of the season, he was moved to the bullpen, where he has shined brightly.
Through 14 starts this season with the Double-A Reading Fightins, the 23-year-old sported a 2-5 record along with a 5.35 ERA, a .297 batting average against and a 5.48 K/9 mark. In 12 relief appearances, Windle has tallied a 2-0 record with a 1.59 ERA, a .194 batting and a 7.41 K/9 mark.
Recently, I spoke Windle, who was drafted in the 2nd round out of Minnesota in 2013, about his adjustment to the new role, coming over in the big trade last off-season and much more. Read ahead for the full interview.
-When I saw you last you were still in the rotation and since then, you’ve has a lot of success as a reliever. How do you think you’ve done adjusting to the switch?
It’s been a pretty easy adjustment so far. Just for kind of what I was going through with throwing strikes, I’ve been able to get out there and not think about the game too much and just have shorter outings, one or two innings where I can really attack the zone and stay more focused, so it’s been a good adjustment.
-Is the biggest difference that the opposition doesn’t get as much exposure to you as a reliever? They’re not seeing you as much, like when you were a starter?
I think it’s a little bit of that, facing the lineup just one time. I think the biggest thing is that I couldn’t rely on that third pitch to go three times through an order and facing the lineup just once, I can really trust my fastball and slider and that I’m really confident. And I just attack them with that first and I guess it goes back to they don’t see me that much.
-How was the change brought to you and was there a level of dissatisfaction with going to the bullpen from your side?
I was a starter and, in a way, I lost my job as a starter. You just got to take it…but, you know I took it as a chance to get better out of the bullpen and I really like what I’ve been doing the last month since the change and I’m just going to go with it. It opened up my mind and I’ve had a lot more positive thoughts going this past month, so looking toward the future, I feel confident right now and I’m looking to stay consistent.
-Certainly, the confidence can roll into the consistency and consistency can lead to confidence, but do you have a desire to get back into a starting role, or are you happy and satisfied where you are?
I mean, I think the biggest thing is just to make it to the big leagues and help the team out. But I think I do have the ability to be a starter someday. But, if this is the quickest path and this is what I am best at and I find success, then why not keep pushing this way?
-You mentioned earlier your third pitch not being as reliable. What’s the full pitch menu right now for you?
Right now I’ve just been trying to get my fastball command back. I throw both four and two seam and then I’ve been able to really throw my slider and get back to how I have thrown it before. I have a hard one and then I can slow it down a little bit. So, I’ve been really comfortable throwing that and trusting it whether I need to throw it back foot or what not. But I think the biggest thing comes down to just the command of those two pitches.
-What’s the third pitch and is it completely dropped from your repertoire?
No. I’ve been throwing it, playing catch and in bullpens. But, in games, I sat down with my coach and I said, ‘My two best pitches, I’m going to try to perfect those as much as possible.’
-Were there players that you looked up to a lot or wanted to emulate prior to turning pro?
I think the guy I looked up to most was Glen Perkins. Being a Minnesota guy, he was a Minnesota Gopher, he player for the Minnesota Twins and the last five years of his career has taken off and he’s an All-Star closer. He was a guy that myself and my teammates back in college could always look up to. He showed his face around and he’s a good guy to look up to. Especially being out in the ‘pen now.
-You came to the Phillies as part of a significant trade last winter. There are some new guys on the team now following the trading deadline deals. Is there any kind of help you could offer to assist the new guys with their transitions?
In a way it’s a big adjustment, but not really. Everyone here is really accepting. I mean, Thompson, he’s been traded twice already, so he kind of knows the deal and the other guys, we have a good group here and I think everyone’s excited. Us, the coaches and the other people with the Phillies (are excited) about the group we have going up. So, if we can stay positive and lean on each other, we should be able to do something in the future.
-The Phillies brought you in for an off-season seminar, along with a group of other top prospects. Was that helpful as an orientation to the new club?
Yeah, that was really nice. I knew Eflin a little bit and Lively, just from playing (against) them last year, but having the chance to go there and meet some of the guys and some of the staff and getting your face out there with a new team was huge.