By: Keegan Matheson
DUNEDIN, Fla. - Tim Mayza is keeping a level head as he begins to climb the ladder with the Toronto Blue Jays.
The left-handed pitcher from the Millersville University of Pennsylvania established himself as an impact bullpen arm in 2015 as a member of the single-A Lansing Lugnuts with improved confidence and a trust in his own eye.
“I’ve always been told ‘believe what you see, not what you think’,” Mayza said.
His third professional season came with an early challenge, however, as Mayza was sent back to extended spring training from Lansing after only one relief appearance. The 12th round pick from 2012 took that opportunity to fine-tune the smaller parts of his game back in Florida.
“I think that when I got here, there wasn’t much mechanical stuff that I needed to get done,” Mayza said, “it was more about controlling my stuff and being able to control my outings.”
Mayza also saw an expanded workload in Lansing, with his 55.2 innings pitched matching his total from 2013 and 2014 combined. He says that his endurance was never an issue, though, crediting the Blue Jays strength and conditioning program with the fact that he felt even stronger as the season wore on.
One major change for Mayza between the college and professional ranks has been his role. Now primarily a reliever after starting for much of his college career, Mayza is happy to adapt to any role that can bring he and his team success.
“I think whatever role allows me to be successful and allows me to move up is the role that I want to be in,” he said. “Whether that’s starting or relieving, it doesn’t really have a toll on what I think or what I do when I’m out on the mound.”
In a farm system that lost multiple left-handed talents at the 2015 MLB Trade Deadline, Mayza now has an opportunity to climb the ladder rather quickly. Especially if he can continue to build on his strikeout totals, with his mid-90s fastball leading the way to 62 this past season.
He won’t let his handedness control the way he pitches, however, as he hopes to develop a more complete pitching arsenal outside of left-on-left match-ups.
“When a lefty steps up there my focus doesn’t advance,” Mayza said. “It doesn’t get sharper when a lefty is up there. It’s kind of just another hitter. I don’t change anything about my game or anything about how I’m going to approach it based on left or right. It’s more based on numbers and what I see when I am out on the mound.”
The Blue Jays have communicated to Mayza that he’s likely to begin the 2016 season in a similar bullpen role within the organization.