ALTOONA, Pa. — For relievers, there's a different mindset and aspect to preparation they must follow to have success when they toe the rubber. It's been that mindset and preparation that has been key for the success Altoona Curve reliever Blake Cederlind is having this year.
Cederlind, the Pirates 2016 fifth-round draft pick out of Merced Community College (Calif.), has appeared in 19 games for Altoona this season accumulating 30 innings. In those 30 innings, he's allowed a paltry 19 hits while opponents have scored only three earned runs on him. Opponents are hitting .181 against Cederlind, a 2016 fifth-round pick, and his ERA sits at .090 entering play on Monday.
"Just the preparation. A lot goes to the staff behind me too, and also my defense. I've got one of the best defenses in Double-A," Cederlind said.
Preparation differs for each pitcher based on personality, skill set and role with the team and Cederlind, 23, is no different.
"Having the same routine every day," Cederlind said. "Sticking to a strict regimen with my throwing program. Focus into everything I do and not just go through the motions."
While preparation has been key to his success, his confidence level has also grown according to Altoona manager Michael Ryan.
"Believing in his stuff. Sometimes you mature quickly when you have a lot of confidence," Ryan said. "You start to do things you might not necessarily do if you didn't have the confidence. He's been great."
On the rubber, Cederlind is in attack mode and looking to get ahead and stay ahead of hitters. And when a pitcher gets ahead, his confidence level continues to rise with each strike thrown.
"Just attacking, getting strike one," Ryan said. "When you get strike one, with the stuff that he has, his confidence rises and he's got really good stuff."
Cederlind's slider has developed into a pitch that freezes hitters in the box and it's no surprise he's averaging nearly a strikeout per inning.
"I've got my off-speed working. That's really helped," Cederlind said. "I just toe the rubber with the same mindset and my same arsenal. I just let the cards fall where they do and my defense makes every play behind me, and I trust my stuff."
With the lights on and the batter in the box, pitchers are different. The preparation that goes into each outing and each day shows in full force once the pitcher is on the rubber. When Cederlind is on the mound, his mentality is much more simplistic than one might think.
"Just pound the zone and let the defense do the rest," Cederlind said.
CURVE'S TOP HITTERS
Jerrick Suiter, 1B -- In last week's schedule abbreviated by the All-Star Game, Suiter was 5 for 12 (.416) with a home run, two RBIs and a run from Friday to Sunday.
Jared Oliva, OF -- Oliva, 23, was 6 for 15 (.400) scoring six runs, hitting a home run and notching seven RBIs in three games over the weekend.
CURVE'S TOP PITCHERS
Top starting performance: Brandon Waddell went six shutout innings Friday night against Erie (again), allowing five hits and striking out seven. Waddell is 2-1 with a 1.44 ERA since returning to Altoona.
Top reliever: Jesus Liranzo threw two shutout innings Saturday against Erie, striking out one and lowering his ERA to 1.69. He's 2-0 on the season.
It was a record-setting weekend for the Curve during their trip to Erie. Friday night saw a victory despite Curve hitters striking out 18 times, a franchise record.
Altoona would win 10-7 Saturday before falling 7-5 to the Seawolves Sunday to start 2-2 after the All-Star break. The Curve return home to take on Trenton for a three games starting on Monday.
ALTOONA FUN THING
It's not often you can see minor leaguers dancing and especially dancing with a rhino, but alas here we are.
— Cathryn Stranahan (@ravenmaidc) July 13, 2019
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