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Stars of Tonight: Aaron McGarity embodying the role of a closer

by Matt Jasko, 07-28-2015

Stars of Tonight: Aaron McGarity embodying the role of a closer

CHATHAM, Mass. – The Angler bullpen is loaded with talent. Debatably the best relief staff in the entire Cape League, seven of its constituents have ERAs of 3.00 or better. It is a rock-solid bridge to victory when the Anglers have a lead in the mid innings, and “Night Hawk” – Chatham Angler closer Aaron McGarity (Virginia Tech)— is the man who waits at the end of that bridge.

McGarity, the team leader in saves (7), has not blown an opportunity all summer. The last run the right-handed phenome surrendered came a month and a half ago on June 13. Since that time he has made 10 appearances without allowing a single opponent to cross home, including a six-out save against Bourne July 7 and a scoreless inning in the East Division’s 1-0 All-Star Game victory July 25.

Ahead of Chatham’s 7 p.m. home contest against Hyannis, McGarity sat down to discuss pitching in different roles and how he has succeeded in one of the most mentally-taxing roles in the game this summer—closing. Here is what he had to say.

 

Matt Jasko: What is your favorite in-game bullpen activity?


Aaron McGarity (Virginia Tech) during his scoreless inning in the All-Star game July 25. 

Aaron McGarity: [Laughs]. There’s a few, but my favorite is Password. We play a lot of different word games where we try to guess different words.

MJ: How does Password specifically work as a word game?

AM: So the way it works is there’s a password that someone makes up and you have to guess. There’s a couple different ways we play, but basically you get a certain number of clues to guess the word, and if nobody gets it within that number of clues then nobody gets that point.

MJ: At Virginia Tech you threw in all sorts of different situations—starting, middle relief, set-up, closing. Here in Chatham you’re a closer. Other than having more time to play word games like Password, how do you feel the closing role differentiates itself from those others?

AM: When you’re starting you have all the time in the world to get ready, but when you’re coming out of the bullpen you don’t really have that luxury. And then specifically as a closer, not only do you have to be ready at a moment’s notice, but when you get out there every pitch matters a little bit more. A starter has more opportunities throughout the game—a closer only throws maybe 12 pitches or so.

MJ: What’s the difference in how you prepare for a game that you’re slated to start as opposed to one that you’re told beforehand you will probably be called on if there is a save situation?

AM: Starting is nice because you have that luxury of knowing when you’re going in and knowing when you’re going onto the field—unless weather comes into play. Closing, you definitely have to be more able to mentally prepare and get ready quickly. Personally, I feel that closing better suits my mental and physical abilities than starting, so it’s a fun role for me to have here.

MJ: I’ve heard you’re a big [video] gamer. If there’s a big game coming up that you know you might pitch in, would you game before hand to stay calm or is that just something independent of baseball that you like to do?

AM: Yeah, a little of both. It’s kind of a calming mechanism of sorts. I might play the night before or the day before, but it’s pretty much something I just do in my free time. It’s not related to baseball too much—just one of the things I find fun to do off the field.

MJ: Before games you guys like to throw a Frisbee around sometimes, and you’re pretty impressive with it. Is throwing that thing around just a time killer for you guys or does that serve another purpose before a game?

AM: That’s another thing like Password and the other games we play in the bullpen. It helps to kill time, but it also helps us to have some fun and make the game feel a little less serious. We don’t mind having a little fun out here a few hours before we play—we’re still amateurs.

MJ: Going forward, there’s going to be a time when you may have the opportunity to play at a level better than the amateur level. Are you gearing yourself to be more of a closer or a starter when that crossing path comes?

AM: Past this level, I would say whatever I can get my hands on honestly. I’m honored to be here right now. And if a team decides to take me, I would be blessed with that opportunity no matter what role it was.

MJ: What is the next step for you moving forward?

AM: Keep adding to my trade. Picking up snippets of advice from my coaches or even other players here. Keep learning. Keep getting better. Keep becoming a better person and player.

 

Tonight

Tonight McGarity and the Anglers (21-17) host the Hyannis Harbor Hawks (20-17-1) at 7 p.m. The probable Chatham starter is the location-keen Zac Gallen (North Carolina). Having one of the many outstanding arms in the Chatham arsenal, Gallen is 2-1 with a 2.25 ERA on the summer. He has a strikeout to walk tally of 28:8 over 24 innings and took a no-hitter into the sixth inning his last time out. The Harbor Hawks will likely counter with Blake Quin (Fullerton). Also a right-hander, Quinn is 1-1 with a 2.92 ERA and a strikeout to walk total of 21:15 through 27.2 innings.

Dominic Cotroneo and Jonny Wincott will have the call live, starting with the Anglers Extra Pregame Show at 6:40 p.m. on TRZ Teamline and at 1-800-846-4700, code 3841.



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