Photo: Kyle Tyler went 7-1 with a 2.64 ERA for the Burlington Bees this season. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)
By John Bohnenkamp
Kyle Tyler remembered his last rough outing with the Burlington Bees.
Tyler gave up six earned runs, including two home runs, in a 13-10 loss to the Quad Cities River Bandits on May 31.
Tyler had a 4.34 ERA after that game, his 10th appearance of the season.
“I gave up four or five runs on decent pitches,” Tyler said. “From then on out, I just told myself something had to change. I guess it was more a mental block than anything.”
Something changed, for the better, and it earned Tyler a promotion from the Bees to the Los Angeles Angels’ High-A team at Inland Empire last week.
From that game on, Tyler went 6-1 with a 1.60 ERA in 11 games. He allowed 38 hits in 56 ⅔ innings, striking out 44.
Tyler, 7-1 with a 2.68 ERA for the Bees this season, closed his time with the team by allowing just three hits and striking out five in five scoreless innings in a 3-0 win over Kane County on Aug. 11 at Community Field. He was promoted three days later.
Tyler was 3-0 with a 1.93 ERA in June that included two unusual complete games — he threw five innings in back-to-back rain-shortened wins — and 2-1 with an 0.96 ERA in July. He was 1-0 with an 0.90 ERA in August when he was promoted.
“I feel like it’s gone pretty good,” Tyler said of his season. “A little rocky at the beginning, but with a few adjustments, and I’ve had some time for pitch development, it’s gone well since then.
“I don’t think there was anything wrong. I think things just weren’t working the way they should.”
Tyler left for Inland Empire while leading the Midwest League in ERA (2.60) and batting average against (.196). He was third in the league with a 1.05 ERA.
“He’s always had good command of his pitches,” Bees manager Jack Howell said. “He goes right at hitters.”
Tyler, a 20th-round pick of the Angels out of Oklahoma in last year’s Major League Baseball draft, went 1-1 with a 5.11 ERA with the Angels’ Rookie League team in Orem last season.
He was primarily a starter with the Bees, although he made five relief appearances, picking up two saves in the first two months of the season.
“Being a starter and a reliever, you get to see the world from both sides,” said Tyler, who had a similar role at Oklahoma. “Being a starter, you have time to do whatever you need to do. It’s your game, you control how it goes. Being a reliever, you come in in bad situations, or you’re lucky enough to come in in a fresh inning, and you pick up where the starter left off.”
The step up to the Midwest League provided an education.
“Everybody here can hit a fastball,” said Tyler, who throws a fastball, slider and change-up. “That’s very apparent. So you have to make sure you mix in every pitch, that you can control every pitch, and keep it near the (strike) zone.
“I learned that I really need to get ahead with the fastball if I can, then throw the off-speed pitches for strikes when I need to. Guys are disciplined up here — if they get their pitch, they’re going to hit it. If I can keep them off-balance, mixing in all three pitches, then I can keep guys off-balance.”
Tyler may not know what kicked off his change of fortune, but it fit into his plan for the season.
“I wanted to have a good season,” Tyler said. Win as much as possible, obviously. Just get all of my pitches to a new level that they haven’t been. Just keep developing every day as a pitcher, whether it’s as a starter or as a reliever.
“And I think I’ve done that.”
SOMETHING TO PLAY FOR IN THE CLOSING DAYS
The Bees, who lost out on a playoff spot in the first half because of a tiebreaker, aren’t going to be in the postseason after struggling in the second half.
But they’re closing strong, which is something manager Jack Howell talked about with his team.
“One of the things we said was, let’s win the rest of our series,” Howell said.
They did that in a three-game set against Kane County last weekend, then took 2-of-3 at Clinton. They have won the first two games of a four-game series at Beloit.
The Bees are on a four-game winning streak, their longest since a five-game winning streak July 6-11.
THE WEEK THAT WAS
Batting average: .249
Opponents’ batting average: .260
Opponents’ ERA: 3.83
Notes: Justin Jones batted .500 with three runs scored and four runs batted in. … Nonie Williams batted .318 and scored six runs. … Jordyn Adams had hits in his first three games off the injured list. … Harrison Wenson had two home runs during the week.
THE WEEK AHEAD
• At Beloit (6:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday) — The final games for the Bees at Beloit this season. They have taken the first two games of the series, and hold an 8-4 edge in the season series.
• At Wisconsin (7:05 p.m. Wednesday-Friday) — The final games of the season against the Timber Rattlers. Wisconsin has a 6-5 advantage in the season series.
• Beloit (6:30 p.m. Saturday and next Monday and Tuesday, 2 p.m. Sunday) — The final homestand of the season begins with a four-game series against the Snappers.