Zephyrs Bullpen Improving

Strong performance has keyed team's recent success

Schmoll has a 3.43 ERA in 26 games. (Joe Maitrejean/New Orleans Zephyrs)

By Matt Langenberg / New Orleans Zephyrs | June 20, 2007 9:01 AM ET

The Zephyrs' bullpen has not been used in what most people would call a traditional way. There is no designated starter or set-up man. Instead the team is flexible and uses all of the relievers for whatever role the situation dictates, including making a spot-start for the rotation.

The Zephyrs' bullpen has been helped a bit by the rotation going deep into games. This allows the relievers some rest, and gives the manager a chance to use them in a situation best-fitted to their strengths. This means that any member of the bullpen could find themselves in any role.

This doesn't faze the guys in the bullpen, instead they are confident in their ability to fill any role. "We feel like anybody is capable and able to close out games," said reliever Jon Adkins.

Some relievers, such as Willie Collazo, have already been asked to fill every role possible this season. He has started, closed, and done everything in-between. Collazo says he wants to do what it takes to get to the big leagues, in whatever role that is.

"I like to start, I like to come in and close, I like to be the setup," said Collazo.

For the most part this season, the bullpen has done their job for whatever is asked of them. Adkins responded to why the bullpen has been able to fill the any job asked of them. "It has to do a lot with confidence," he said.

Adkins says that it helps when the team is playing well. If a reliever gives up a couple of runs they can still be confident because the rest of the team is swinging the bats well and playing great defense behind them. Everyone steps up their game when the team does well.

"Seems like as the team plays better, everyone plays better," said Adkins.

Steve Schmoll weighed in on how he handles whatever role is given to him. "I try not to focus on the results. I try to think about how I am going about getting the job done."

Schmoll adds an interesting weapon to the bullpen, using a low arm-slot some would describe as pitching under-handed. He thinks he helps out the bullpen with his unique delivery because batters don't see it very often.

Whatever the role given to them, the bullpen seems to have a common goal: to go out there and do their best. "We all like to go out there and compete" said Collazo.

They know that if they perform with the Zephyrs, they just might be given a chance to show what they can do in the big leagues.

"We are here to play at the big league level," said Schmoll, "and this is just a step in the process."

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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