Yankees’ star reliever describes pitching mentality: “When I’m on the mound, I want to be a dog”

New York Yankees, Michael King

After finishing last season with a 3.55 ERA and a 22.5 percent strikeout rate, Yankees’ reliever Michael King has taken a huge step forward as a multi-inning relief weapon. Before Saturday’s game, he boasted a fantastic 1.40 ERA in 25.2 innings, with a much improved 39.4 percent strikeout rate.

In a conversation with the New York Post, the Yankees’ relief ace talked about his mentality on the mound and lots of other things.

“I definitely try to get a totally different personality. I generally think I’m a nice guy, very smiley, I love to laugh. But when I’m on the mound I want to be a dog. I want to make sure that the hitter knows my presence and sees my confidence, ’cause I always say that a hitter can smell blood in the water. And if he sees any doubt in my mind, I think he already has me, so I want to make sure that he doesn’t see that doubt,” he stated.



The Yankees’right-hander, who started to show some signs of improvement in 2021, said that the 2020 campaign taught him a lot.

“My whole 2020 season, that COVID year, it was a very tough year for me. I felt like I got too mental where I was trying to make adjustments every game, and I never once just went out there and had that aggressive mentality, and it’s not fun to pitch in because you’re facing the best hitters in baseball, and I’m up there thinking about my mechanics or thinking about how I have to be sooo perfect on this pitch instead of just attacking with conviction,” he explained. It seems that it took some time for him to trust his mechanics, but his work is now paying off.

The Yankees gave him the resources and he made the most of them

He credits the improvement of his slider as the most important development behind his breakout performance.

“Working with [Corey] Kluber last year and him noticing that we had a very similar arm slot, I felt like I made huge improvements on the horizontal movement of that. And then this year I’m just focusing on the command of it and be able to throw backdoor, down and away for a strike to a righty, throw it back foot to a lefty, expand it away to a righty. Last year I just kind of ripped it and it had good movement, now I’m trying to rip it in locations.”

Thanks to pitching coach Matt Blake, Kluber, and King’s own desire to improve, the Yankees now have an elite relief arm missing bats like never before.