After spending four years predominantly as a reliever, the New York Yankees are giving Chase Whitley a look as a full-time starter.
Five weeks and six starts into his third year in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, the early indication is it's "all aboard" for the RailRiders right-hander on that plan.
Whitley (3-2) allowed three hits and struck out a career-high 11 batters over a season-best 6 2/3 innings in the Baby Bombers' 2-1 win over the Indianapolis Indians on Tuesday.
"I think it's one of those days … the first one I ever had, so it's rare," Whitley told The (Wilkes-Barre) Times Leader. "I just thank the Lord because I was not good coming out of the bullpen [during warmup]," Whitley said.
The 24-year-old retired the first 14 batters he faced before Nevin Ashley singled to center field with two outs in the fifth. Jaff Decker followed with a double to left-center field, but Whitley set down Michael Martinez to strand both runners in scoring position.
Chris Dickerson recorded Indianapolis' third hit with one out in the sixth, but Whitley retired the final four batters he faced before turning a 1-0 lead to the bullpen.
"They were very aggressive, which is surprising, because I know from experience -- watching guys pitch strictly out of the stretch -- you think, 'This guy's got a pitch limit.' But they weren't taking pitches they were there to hit," Whitley told the newspaper. "So I took advantage of that and got some quick outs."
The Troy University product, selected by the Yankees in the 15th round of the 2010 Draft, lowered his ERA to 2.49 in the victory.
He closed in his first professional outings for short-season Staten Island, where he collected 15 saves, posted a 1.31 ERA and earned a midseason All-Star selection, and he recorded seven saves over 42 appearances between two levels in 2011 over two levels.
He spent most of 2012 as a middle reliever with the Yankees' Triple-A affiliate and returned to the International League last year, going 3-2 with three saves over 29 appearances, including five starts.
This season has been a little different for the Alabama native. He has posted scoreless outings in three of his past four appearances, including back-to-back starts against Buffalo, in which he yielded five hits over a combined 10 innings.
On Tuesday, Mark Montgomery pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings, and Robert Coello allowed an unearned run in the ninth, but struck out two batters to earn his first save.
Indianapolis' Vance Worley (0-1) surrendered a run on five hits over six frames. He struck out four batters and did not issue a walk.