Syracuse Chiefs and former George Washington Colonials pitcher Josh Wilkie is off to a good start through 4 games and a 1.35 ERA as a reliever. He has pitched a robust 6 2/3 innings, allowing only 2 hits and 1 earned run. Righties are batting just .125 against Josh, who grabbed a few minutes with me as the Nats were checking out of their team hotel.
Wilkie told me things are going well in the first few weeks:
"I am trying to get a feel on the mound when pitching every other day as a reliever. It is all about working on consistency."
What pitch have you been concentrating on?
"I have been working on my cutter. It has been great because as a reliever you can put a bunch of games together and that allows me to use the cutter a lot and see how it works."
It seems like you have a great set up in Syracuse, what is it like pitching for the Chiefs?
"The atmosphere is great in Syracuse. This team has a winning attitude. This town is a winning town with the Orange. The older guys instill a real positive attitude and set a good example for every player.
I enjoy talking with Joel Peralta and having him as a teammate. We talk shop a lot. He has a ton of experience."
How about your pitching coach, Greg Booker getting rave reviews from Scott Olsen and others:
"Greg Booker has been awesome. He is a feel guy. He associates your pitching with helping you visualize what you need to do to be successful."
As a pitcher how do you fight through days when you don't feel 100 percent, or the weather gets involved, can Booker help with that?
"It is your job to get up for days when you are not hot. It is not the pitching coach's job at this level to figure how to help you when you are not at your best.
Booker is great at analyzing what is going well and what is going wrong. He watches warmups and is always open for discussions.
He helped me in a game when I pitched well but the results were bad for the team. He told me what I did well and how I could have done better in other areas."
Ronnie Belliard is batting .381 with the Dodgers, who also started 6-6 and arrive this weekend.