McAllister aims for another big league chance
April 14, 2012
After making his major league debut last season, Columbus Clippers’ right-handed starting pitcher Zach McAllister is ready to get back to the big leagues, and stay there when he does.
The 24-year-old started four games for the Cleveland Indians last summer, posting an 0-1 record with a 6.11 ERA in 17.2 innings, while striking out 14 batters.
“It was exciting. I was able to have a lot of family and friends come, ” McAllister said of his time with the Indians. “I didn’t really expect to get too many tickets so it was all on them and it was a good experience to have all them there and support me and have my back.”
A third-round pick in the 2006 draft by the New York Yankees, McAllister was acquired by Cleveland in a trade with New York in August of 2010 in which the Indians gave up outfielder Austin Kearns.
Of his four starts with Cleveland, McAllister only gave up more than two earned runs in one of them—on Aug. 23 to Seattle (eight earned runs in 3.1 innings).
His final outing for the Indians was his best, throwing five scoreless innings against the Chicago White Sox on Sept. 28.
This offseason, McAllister worked out with a high school friend and a trainer he has been using for years back home in Peoria, Illinois. While he didn’t focus on anything specific, McAllister said his time in the majors last season gave him a confidence heading into the winter that he hadn’t had before.
“Knowing, seeing what I’ve been able to do in my last two starts (with the Indians), knowing that I can pitch there, that I can compete and win, and it was just a good experience and a good thing to have,” he said.
A part of the 40-man roster, McAllister appeared in three games this spring training with the Indians, but was optioned to Columbus two weeks prior to the beginning of the season.
With the Clippers, McAllister is the number one starter in the rotation, and has made two starts so far this season, both no-decisions. Following an opening day outing on Apr. 5 against Louisville in which he went six innings and allowed three earned runs, McAllister threw six scoreless innings on Apr. 10 versus Indianapolis.
McAllister said one of his goals this season is to increase his strikeout total.
“I would love to have a strikeout an inning, just to get that up, it’s something that I’ve never been able to do in my career,” he said.
In 12 innings of action with Columbus, McAllister has done just that, striking out the equivalent of a batter an inning.
With his velocity up (touching 95 mph on occasion), and an arsenal that includes a cutter, changeup and sharp-breaking curveball, McAllister is more potent than ever.
“I know I’m confident in my abilities to get guys out with any pitch I have," McAllister said. “I have more weapons this year than I’ve had in the past. Through my whole career I probably have more weapons now that I can use.”
While he is pleased with his performance in Columbus thus far, McAllister knows in order to make it back to Cleveland, he will have to sustain it.
“Putting up zeros in the minor leagues is the biggest thing, just because everyone’s goal is to get to the big leagues, and to do that you have to be successful and be ready to perform whenever the time comes,” McAllister said.
If, and it is probably safe to say when, McAllister’s time comes this season, he wants it to be the last time he gets called up from the minor leagues.
“In the big leagues, you obviously want to stay there, so when I get my chance again, regardless of when it is, I would like to stay there for the rest of the season and that just comes with having the right opportunity and putting up zeros when you get up there too,” McAllister said.
McAllister is scheduled to make his next start with Columbus (6-2) on Sunday at Louisville. First pitch is set for 2:05 p.m.
Andrew Holleran is a third-year journalism student at The Ohio State University. You can follow him on Twitter @andrewjholleran or reach him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.