Hanson takes move back to bullpen in stride

The junior pitcher made five starts in the rotation before becoming a reliever.

Minnesota starter Tyler Hanson pitches against Augsburg at Siebert Field on May 6, 2014.

Chelsea Gortmaker, Daily File Ph

Minnesota starter Tyler Hanson pitches against Augsburg at Siebert Field on May 6, 2014.

Kaitlin Merkel

Tyler Hanson is straightforward about why he’s back in the Gophers bullpen after making five starts earlier in the season.
 
 
“It’s probably because I didn’t pitch too well the fifth start. … That’s probably the honest reason,” Hanson said.
 
 
The junior pitcher’s fifth and last start came against Utah Valley on March 20, when he lasted just three innings and gave up seven runs, six earned, on nine hits.
 
 
Head coach John Anderson removed Hanson from the rotation afterwards and turned him back into a relief pitcher. So far, the coach said he’s been impressed by how it’s gone.
 
 
Anderson said Hanson’s attitude about the change was exactly what he wanted to see from the Savage, Minn., native, even though Hanson spent the summer starting for the Wilmar Stingers in the Northwoods League.
 
 
“I just told him, ‘You’ve got to go back in the bullpen and help us any way you can,’ and he’s had no problem with it,” Anderson said. “He hasn’t sulked because he lost his job, and he’s been a team guy and accepted the role that he had. And it’s made a difference the last two weekends.”
 
 
Hanson made relief appearances in each of the Gophers last two series. On March 26, he pitched 2 and 2/3 innings against Missouri State, giving up one run on one hit.
 
 
His latest appearance came on Sunday against Iowa, where Hanson pitched 4 and 1/3 scoreless innings and struck out a career-high six batters.
 
 
Hanson said his positive attitude about the new role has helped him focus on the command of all of his pitches and find success.
 
 
“Starting the season as a starter was nice, but I think I found my role out of the bullpen,” Hanson said. “I’ll adjust to wherever they need me to pitch.”
 
 
Hanson’s teammates have taken notice of Hanson’s sharper performance, too. Junior pitcher and outfielder Matt Fiedler said it’s a credit to Hanson that he’s been able to make the switch successful.
 
 
“It’s just kind of rejuvenated him. It looks like all of his pitches have a little bit more life on them,” Fiedler said. “It’s just a testament to his character, too, because some guys might take that role as a demotion or something, but he really just saw it as a new opportunity to help the team.”
 
 
Hanson is currently 2-2 on the season with a 5.46 ERA in 31 and 1/3 innings. His command has been sharp, with 20 strikeouts and just three walks.
 
 
It’s been better as a reliever though, as Hanson has seven strikeouts and no walks in seven relief innings. 
 
 
He’s only allowed four hits in those innings and one earned run.
 
 
“He’s had a better three pitch mix. … And his fastball has been down in the zone more than it was when he was a starter. So he’s just located the fastball better, and he’s had better off-speed stuff since he’s working out of the bullpen,” Anderson said. “He’s pitched [well] out of the bullpen the last two weeks, so it looks like he might have found a home.”