There wasn't much news to report from this afternoon's press scrum, so I took the opportunity to head over to the Marlins' clubhouse and catch up with former Pirates reliever Chad Qualls.
As I'm sure most Pirates' fans will remember, Qualls came over to the Bucs last year in exchange for Casey McGehee. During his time in Pittsburgh, the 34-year-old pitched 13.2 innings, posted a 6.59 ERA, and recorded two holds. Unfortunately, Qualls only experienced The Collapse during his time with his Bucs. I asked him today what he thought the reason was for last season's drop-off:
I don't know. Maybe what happened was everyone was putting so much pressure on themselves to end the streak. When we did lose a few games, I think maybe a few guys let it snowball because they were just trying too hard. You know, sometimes when you try too hard, you don't succeed. Instead of just letting things happen.
With it being the same group of guys this year, and they went through it last year, they're not going to let it happen again. I really think they are going to continue to play how they've been playing.
You know, obviously I'm in the other clubhouse right now and want to beat them, but at the same time they are a good group of guys and they deserve it. They're over there working hard and I'm happy for them.
Exactly a week ago, Qualls received national attention after winning the internet for a night, when an innocent fist pump turned into a tumble, which then turned into one of the .gifs of the season (link). I asked him about what exactly happened that night.
I rolled my ankle like five pitches before that. It was a big situation, tied in the eighth of a 2-2 game with a leadoff triple. So, I got out of the inning and was a little excited and went for a fist pump and ended up rolling my ankle even more and that's why I went down.
It's a good thing I have a good sense of humor, so it didn't bother me too much with my teammates razzing me.
(The day after the fist-pump-turned-tumble, Marlins pitchers Steve Cishek and Tom Koehler placed a mannequin in the second deck of Marlins Park with a rifle taped to its shoulder, imitating a sniper.)
With the exception of infamous trip, it is safe to say that Qualls has landed on his feet in Miami. This season he has thrown 44.1 innings, posting a 2.64 ERA, with an impressive 1.105 WHIP, 3.70 strikeout to walk ratio and a Justin Wilsonesque strand rate of 83.7 percent. I asked him what was behind his success this season.
Last year I went through a lot of things off the field. It is hard to be committed 100 percent to the game when you have a lot of things going on in your personal life.
This year, obviously, things have turned around. The birth of our second child. And the guys on this team are awesome, that makes it easy to fit in here. The bullpen is just a great group of guys.
Basically, I feel a lot better this year. I feel like everything is going my way, so it's been a good year.