GENEVA, IL - The Kane County Cougars have been playing great baseball of late, and that continued at…
Cahill Making Big Strides In Second Season
Since then, Cahill has pulled a complete 180. He has thrown quality outings (six-plus innings pitched while allowing three runs or less) in seven of his last nine starts while dropping his ERA to a respectable 3.58. So what has he changed? Well, quite a lot.
"I've improved on a little bit of everything," Cahill said. "I've been pitching inside a lot more, mainly with my two-seam fastball and have been utilizing my sinker more. Earlier I was just trying to throw the ball hard and now I'm learning to control pitches better."
In addition to learning how to pitch to certain batters, Cahill has begun developing other pitches. While he has been working on his sinker, Cahill is also developing a change-up that combined with his low-90's fastball has given batters fits.
"I'm more confident in my change-up now because I can throw it for strikes," Cahill said about his developing pitch.
"It's a huge turnaround because I didn't used to be able to throw it. The A's stress throwing a change-up a lot so right when I got to [the Instructional League last fall] I started working on it."
Cahill has used his combination of power and finesse to keep batters off balance. It is the progression of his off-speed pitches that has been a major reason that he has earned victories in three of his last four starts. The one game he didn't win was a seven-inning gem in which he gave up one earned run and earned a no decision. Cahill currently sits at 7-4 and has a good chance of reaching a few of his season-long goals.
"I would like my ERA to be in the twos," Cahill admitted.
"Three-four is average and probably decent for a starter but I would like to be below three. Also, I want to get to 10 wins. It's going to be hard because I got here late and we don't have the best winning percentage but I should have five or six more starts and if I throw really well it's possible."
With Cahill pitching as well as he has recently, a 10-win season is quite possible, especially since he has begun to understand how to pitch to batters in the Midwest League.
"It's a lot different in this league than it was in the Arizona (Rookie League) because they were free swingers down there," Cahill said.
"These guys are basically right out of college and more experienced so it's harder to get them out. I feel like I'm starting to get a hang of the league."
At only 19 years old, Cahill is the youngest player on the Cougars. But according to manager Aaron Nieckula, he doesn't show the inexperience his age would suggest.
"In my opinion, Cahill is mature beyond his years," Nieckula stated.
"He may be 19 on paper, but he's got more wisdom inside. He has good composure and he's a competitor. He's not the ‘rah-rah' type, but he's a fierce competitor inside."
All this from a player who originally was a shortstop for his high school in California. If not for Cahill consistently hurling bullets to his first baseman, he may never have found his way to the mound. As for the pressure put on pitchers, he doesn't mind it.
"I have always liked pressure situations," Cahill said about pitching.
"I love playing in front of fans and having the ball in my hand on every play."
Cahill has been a big reason that the Cougars have surged to a winning record (21-20 in the second half) for the first time this season. While he hopes to continue to improve, there is no telling when or where he will move up.
"I have no idea," Cahill said about when he thought he may get promoted.
"They keep everybody in the dark on what is going on in the organization."
In his 15 starts this season, Cahill has pitched better as the game has gone on. It's not just a statistical coincidence, as Cahill admittedly doesn't like the early innings.
"The first inning has always been the toughest for me," Cahill said.
"You're warming up with the catcher for 10 minutes but then when someone stands in there it's a completely different ballgame. If I get out of the first inning, typically I have a chance of going deep into the game."
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