BALTIMORE -- He has enjoyed this run without question, proving the White Sox correct and his former teams wrong. But Anthony Swarzak said he's doing his best not too get too caught up by the outstanding success he's had so far this season.
The veteran White Sox reliever said Sunday morning that he wants people to remember him come the All-Star break. If he keeps up this performance, that shouldn't be an issue. Toting a 95-mph fastball and a dominant slider, Swarzak has allowed three hits in 14 2/3 scoreless innings to start the season. He has walked one and struck out 17 batters.
"I've had some pretty high highs in my career and some pretty low lows and you start to realize, what the hell is the difference?" Swarzak said. "I've still got to show up every day. The sun always rises the next day. So you want to have a consistent work habit and try to just play to win every day and get on a championship team. That's really what people remember is winning a World Series and being a part of something special, not a good April."
The first part of Swarzak's season has surpassed good. Swarzak said in spring training he's done saving his bullets and that's why his fastball velocity has increased from 93.6 mph in 2014. But his slider also has more bite than ever.
Opponents are hitting .067 against Swarzak, who has set down the last 15 hitters he has faced and 33 of 34 overall. Not only are hitters having trouble with the fastball, they've got a .100 average against his slider, according to Brooksbaseball.net. That mark is well below his previous best against the slider (.253) in 2014.
"I feel like I've had a pretty good slider for a few years," Swarzak said. "I feel like it plays. But as far as not missing with it and executing and not scared to go to it two times in a row, stuff like that, everything is kind of mixing in well right now for me."
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Swarzak's performance and several key injuries have already shifted his role in the White Sox bullpen. Manager Rick Renteria has capitalized on Swarzak's run and used him in critical situations throughout the current road trip. Renteria thinks Swarzak's success is in part because of the downward angle on his pitches and explosive action.
"His confidence level is very high right now," Renteria said. "He's found a way to throw (the slider) so it's effective for strikes. He can come back with the velocity. When you have command of multiple pitches, hitters try to eliminate one or the other. But his fastball has tremendous life, so even if you're waiting for it, it's got a little giddyup."
Though he's off to a tremendous start, Swarzak knows it doesn't mean anything unless he keeps it going. Given where he is in his career, he's doing his best to stay grounded. He's happy to be pitching so well as one of his former teams --- the Minnesota Twins --- is set to open a series at the White Sox. But his desire is to be pitching just as well the next time the Twins roll back through town.
"It's always fun to prove people wrong and the organization right that you're with," Swarzak said. "Right now I'm just trying to grab a hold of what's going on as far as opportunity and my career and stuff. Right now I'm heading in the right direction, but it's all about consistency. If I have an equally bad month as I've had a good month, nobody's going to know who the hell I am come the All-Star break. It's one of those things where I'm trying to keep it all in perspective and take it one day at a time."