CHATHAM ---- The Chatham Anglers were in a tailspin and had lost four straight games last week. That was until Derek Self’s (Louisville) turn in the rotation came up. Self twirled a complete game one-hitter to lead the Anglers over the Hyannis Harbor Hawks, 3-1.
Chatham fans should not have worried, because Self is a winner ---- figuratively and literally. In two years at Louisville, he is 14-0 and is now 3-0 this summer in the Cape League.
“It was a real pleasure to watch him throw that game,” Chatham field manager John Schiffner said. “He throws strikes, he comes after the hitter and he fields his position well.”
Just as winning is not in question, neither is Self’s strength, conditioning or versatility. The Louisville coaches spoke highly of his work ethic and mental makeup to Schiffner. In his two years as a Cardinal, Self has made 49 appearances and just 10 starts.
“He can pitch any type of spot. He’s a classic utility pitcher,” Schiffner said. “He is one of the hardest workers on strength and conditioning. His work ethic is amazing, he’s enthusiastic and he has a tremendous makeup.”
At 6-2, 195, Self is not physically intimidating, but batters soon find out that he’s tough. They also realize that they are going to be swinging the bats quite a bit. He has walked just three batters in 30 innings this summer. His total of nine strikeouts isn’t mind-boggling, but he’s still able to dominate a game.
“He dominated last night and only struck out three,” Schiffner said. “It’s the old-fashioned adage ---- work fast, throw strikes and change speeds. That’s exactly what he does.”
Lauded as a pitcher that a defense loves to play behind, Self never puts much into the winning thing until after the game is over. He focuses on his job on the mound and lets the results fall as they may. And they have been falling in the win column for a long time.
Does losing cross his mind?
“Not so much up here, because I am not at college,” he said. “I still think about it and I still don’t want to lose. I just go out there and give it my all. I don’t put pressure on myself.”
Making the undefeated feat more impressive is the utility pitcher concept. Not only does he start games, but he is also called upon out of the bullpen in tough situations. Still, he has found a way to get through unscathed.
“It’s fantastic. You can see why though; he doesn’t get himself in trouble,” Schiffner said. “He doesn’t walk guys and he is a gifted athlete off the mound.”
Self did have one close call this season at Louisville. He was staked to a 5-0 lead after two innings against Vanderbilt, but hit a wall in the third, giving up six runs. The Cardinals tied the game in the fifth to get him off the hook, but Vanderbilt took the victory in an exciting 17-inning affair.
And now, amidst another Chatham losing streak (this one three games), it’s up to the Anglers to stop the skid by giving the ball to Self. If you’re wondering, he is scheduled to start on July 17. A Chatham “W” can’t be far off.