April 14, 2005
Florida State closer Tyler Chambliss is having an All-American season. The Live Oak, FL native is just one save off leading the nation and he is first in the ACC in saves and saves in conference games. His 0.95 ERA leads the team and he is more than half way to the single season saves record at FSU with 10. Chambliss sat down with seminoles.com yesterday for a Q&A.
You hit .380 as a high school senior, so you have some power. Do you miss hitting?
I miss hitting a little bit. When you get up to bat as a hitter and you make an out, you have to wait a couple of innings to get up again. Being a hitter is more frustrating than being a pitcher is. As a pitcher, you can throw one bad pitch and go right on to the next one.
Do you ever jump into the batting cage and take some swings or is your career all about pitching?
As a pitcher, when we throw a shutout in a game, we get to take batting practice. We play a game called pitchers’ batting practice. We are able to jump in and take a couple of hacks with each shutout we throw.
Which role do you enjoy more being a starter or a reliever? Why?
That’s a tough question to answer. I have started only one game during my Florida State career. In high school, I loved being a starting pitcher. As a starter, you get to go out and pitch the entire game if you are doing well. I love being a reliever here at Florida State. It’s very exciting whenever I come into a game and that excitement allows me to get really pumped up. Either way, it’s good for me.
How do you mentally and physically approach a game day not knowing if or when you are going to be called into a game?
I have a routine where I show up at the ball field and do what I do every day the same way. I just hang out and just watch the beginning of the game. By the fifth inning, you get an idea of how the game is going to pan out. Around the seventh inning I go inside and get my cleats on and begin to prepare my mind to go into the game. If the game is close, I will walk down the bullpen about the eighth inning and start throwing.
What do you take more pride in striking out a batter or getting a batter to hit a ground ball?
I would definitely rather strike a batter out. I try to strike out every batter I face.
How did you transform yourself from a middle inning set-up pitcher to a late inning closer?
When I came out as a freshman, I never knew when I was going to get into a game. Now, I know what my role is and how I have to go about preparing myself. I know what I have to do to help this team be successful. It’s all about your mental preparation and knowing what your job is. I go out there and I have one inning to do what I have to do. I put it all on the line and throw as hard as I want to throw. For one inning, I give it everything I have to help my team.
Did your late inning success make you the Seminoles’ closer or was that a conscious decision to put you into that role?
I had a lot of late inning success and closed out a number of games last year. Despite only having one save opportunity, I was put into the closing situation quite a bit last year. This year we had a bunch of starters coming back, and though a couple of them got hurt early on, we had enough starting pitchers that I could move into the closers role. I’m in the bullpen with Kevin Lynch and Matt DeBlasi and that’s a pretty good trio to help us win games.
Which situation would you rather come into bases loaded with the game on the line or no men on with a lead?
I have come in during both situations so it doesn’t really matter. It only matters if I do my job correctly. When you come in with the bases loaded and the game on the line and you get out of it, you get a bit more pumped up. It’s fun, also, to come in with nobody on and our team ahead. In those situations, you come in, strike the first three batters out and go home.
Which is more satisfying a win or a save?
For me it’s a save. If I get a win, then I did something wrong unless the game is tied when I came in. When I come in, I’m either blowing a save or coming in when it is tied. Personally, I would rather get a save.
You lead the ACC in saves, you are on the Clemens Award Watch List and are enjoying your best season. Have you had to re-adjust your goals for 2005 or are they the same goals you set at the start of the season?
I really havent changed my goals and I’m happy with the way my season is going so far. I came in wanting to transfer every save opportunity I had, and though I haven’t done that, I’m pleased with the way I have pitched. I wanted to lead the ACC and the nation in saves by pitching the best I could each game. If that wins more games for this team, I am happy.
What have been the Seminoles’ keys to success down the stretch?
To continue being successful, we have to execute the little things. We can’t make errors. We have to get bunts down and we have to move runners over. We have to pitch well our starting pitchers have to give us good stuff. Our bullpen has to give us good outings. We all have to be as good as we have been up to this point. We have to continue to do the little things and we should do well.