Flying Tigers' Turley finding his way back

Detroit lefty makes longest start of pro career following conversion

Josh Turley has struck out 48 batters over 56 1/3 innings this season for Lakeland. (Mark LoMoglio/

By Robert Emrich / | May 27, 2014 10:48 PM

Starting is like riding a bike. Even after working out of the bullpen for two years, Josh Turley still knows how to do it.

The Tigers southpaw tossed eight two-hit innings as Class A Lakeland blanked Jupiter, 1-0, on Tuesday.

Turley struck out five and walked two, throwing 90 pitches for the Flying Tigers. The 23-year-old gave up a leadoff single to Viosergy Rosa in the second inning and a ground-rule double by Matt Juengel to start the fifth. Turley credited advice from his pitching coach, former Major Leaguer Mike Maroth, for his success.

"I approached my coach before the game and he was telling me how the ballpark plays big," he said. "Being a ground-ball pitcher, I used that to my advantage and kept the ball down. Mostly just two-seams, sinkers and changeups to keep them off balance. Keeping the ball down in the zone. Trying to make them hit the pitch I want them to hit instead of leaving the ball up."

Turley has spent the previous two seasons working exclusively out of the bullpen since being drafted in the 16th round by the Tigers in 2012. Earlier this season, the Texas native moved back into the rotation as the Flying Tigers dealt with some injuries and he hasn't looked back.

"I was surprised that  I got the nod to start," he said. "I was called upon to make a couple of spot starts. It's turned into longer than I think anyone expected. I'm settling back into it and trying to make the most of it."

The Baylor University product earned his first win since May 6, improving to 4-0 in 12 Florida State League appearances. In seven starts, Turley has a 2.15 ERA and 39 strikeouts over 45 innings. Tuesday marked the first time the hurler worked into the eighth inning as a pro.

"I'm pretty happy," Turley said. "It's been different so far, different mind-set going from relieving to starting. You [go from throwing] one or two innings every night to trying to get as many innings as you can every five days. I've been able to keep my pitch count down, which has let me pitch more effectively through more innings."

Angel Nesbitt tossed a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his ninth save of the season for the Flying Tigers.

James Robbins provided the offense with an RBI single that plated Lance Durham in the sixth.

Austin Brice, the Marlins' No. 19 prospect, fell to 3-5 after allowing a run on five hits over 5 2/3 innings for the Hammerheads.

Robert Emrich is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @RobertEmrich. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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