Other than the sale of team, that was announced during the season, becoming official, it’s been a rather slow start to the offseason for the Kansas City Royals. We don’t know exactly what this team will look like when Opening Day rolls around, but Jake Newberry figures to find himself firmly in the mix of the Royals bullpen. We had a chance to interview Jake this offseason and wanted to share that exchange with you here at Royals Review. Here is the full transcript from the interview:
Q: “The term “analytics” has been a hot-button topic around baseball. What are you doing personally to incorporate analytics into your game? (Rapsodo, pitch design, pitch sequencing, etc.)”
Jake: “I’m a very feel pitcher From at-bat to at-bat. I do use Rapsodo but try not to think about it too much on the mound. That’s where you can get too technical and in turn actually lose focus and trust in your best stuff.”
Q: “Your strikeout numbers (and overall performance in general) exploded at AA in 2018. Is there anything specific that you contribute to the success you found two years ago?”
Jake: “I just started trusting and understanding what kind of pitcher I was. I just turned 21. I think when I really came into my own was actually in 2017 between Low-A and High-A. I had a sub-3.00 ERA and was invited to play in the Arizona Fall League and Puerto Rico Winter League, which we ended up winning, so that was awesome!”
Q: “The Royals won a world championship on the back of one of the best bullpens the game has ever seen. Does that give you any kind of a sense of pride to be following in the steps of Wade Davis, Kelvin Herrera, Greg Holland, etc.?”
Jake: “It gives me great pride knowing I can possibly get an opportunity to have success just as they did!”
Q: “Being a reliever can be an extremely volatile line of work. One day you’re the hero, one day you’re the goat. How do you manage the highs and lows of the job as the season progresses?”
Jake: “I think you just have to take everything with a grain of salt and take it day by day. It’s a blessing to be able to perform at the highest level of our sport everyday and I like to never take any of these moments for granted. Personally I learn way more losing than winning!”
Q: “Opposing hitters will certainly have to make adjustments to you as they see you for the 3rd and 4th and 5th times this upcoming season. What kind of adjustments do you try to make in season as you face opponents over and over?”
Jake: “Adjustments come with certain key spots in the game but at the end of the day you have to know what your strength is even if sometimes it’s right in line with the hitters strengths. I would rather get beat with my best pitch in my best spot than somewhere I’m not as convicted and consistent with, because the stats show pitchers are gonna have the upper hand 7/10 times.”
I’ve gotten the chance to interact with Jake a couple of times now between Royals Review and the work we’ve done over at Royals Farm Report. Jake is a genuinely good dude and super easy to root for. I think Royals fans will get a good chance to see that as Jake becomes a more familiar face on the roster in 2020.
One thing that stood out to me when talking with Jake, outside of his obvious passion for the game and the Royals franchise, was the way he talked about “feel” on the mound. It’s easy for fans, and probably people in the game as well, to get wrapped up into the analytics of the game and feel like a robot. The ability to feel what’s working in any given situation is still a key part of the art of pitching.
There ya go, Royals fans. Hopefully you enjoyed Jake’s answers!