Starter-turned-reliever works well for Baker with Double-A Tulsa
The right-hander with the Los Angeles Dodgers affiliate picked up his first save in six seasons of pro ball and then earned a hold in his next appearance as a set-up man for the Texas League team.
“I’m feeling pretty good physically and mentally,” he told me. “Days get a little tough when you’re not pitching great, but it’s all good.”
Baker, of Juneau-Douglas High fame, started slowly but owns a 1.96 ERA over the last three weeks as he continues his transformation from starter to reliever.
“As a starter you prep your whole week around one game. Now as a reliever I pretty much have to be ready to go every day,” he said. “It’s a challenging but I’m enjoying it.”
The rocket right-hander started 46 of his first 48 games before a rash of injuries forced into a more limited role.
“I know it has to do with my past, having all those injuries but also because I haven’t pitched much. I can’t just jump my total innings way up in one year, so they are easing me into it,” Baker said.
On the flip side, the shortened work load might prolong his career.
“Easier track for me to move up in the organization,” he said.
Baker is among the greatest pitchers in Alaska history and joined Soldotna’s Marshall Boze as the only guys from the 907 to have a complete game and a save in the minor leagues.
Baker has been a strikeout pitcher his whole career but now that he’s more experience he’s more interested in breaking bats than breaking egos.
Twice in his last four games he needed only seven pitches to get through a full inning of work.