By: Mike Ashmore
(Central Islip, N.Y., Sept. 28, 2017) – Finally, Jake Fisher can act like he’s been there before.
The 27-year-old Long Island Ducks left-hander made the first postseason start of his five-year professional career last Friday in Game 3 of the Liberty Division Series against the Somerset Patriots, spinning a complete-game gem in a 6-1 win.
On Thursday, he’ll look to replicate that success.
Fisher will take the ball in Game 2 of the Atlantic League Championship Series against the York Revolution at Bethpage Ballpark at 6:35 PM, and his start will go a long way in trying to accomplish exactly what he was brought here to do via a trade with Windy City of the Frontier League.
“He’s a very confident kid,” said Ducks pitching coach Billy Horn. “Not in a bad way, but he knows his talents and there’s no limitations. He’s a good lefty, upper 80’s-low 90’s with very good offspeed stuff. He’s excited more than anything. There’s no nerves or anything like that, and I think he’s young enough and maybe just inexperienced enough to maybe not fully understand the whole magnitude of this situation with playoff baseball and a championship series. It’s a big deal, but he doesn’t care. He’s just going out, and it’s a ‘give me the ball, I don’t want to come out of the game’ attitude. I love it.”
Fisher was taken in the 22nd round of the 2013 MLB Draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers, and spent just one year in their organization before joining Windy City. Each year with the ThunderBolts, his numbers got progressively better, and he put himself in contention for the Frontier League’s Pitcher of the Year award this season by going 10-7 with a 2.80 ERA in 20 starts with just 29 walks and 120 strikeouts in 138 innings pitched.
“Honestly, it’s just maturing with the game,” said Fisher of his steady improvement.
“Any time you get more experience doing something, obviously it’s going to get better. That’s one thing that I feel like is happening with my career. I was in the same league for four years, and I made adjustments year to year growing as a person and as a ballplayer and the results have showed…it’s refining my game and my mindset towards the game. The competitive nature has always been there, but it’s been a better mentality towards what I’m actually doing out there.”
It was that competitive nature, not to mention his stellar statistics, that made him a top priority for the Ducks when Fisher’s season came to an end in Illinois.
“Jake’s a guy that we had gotten from the Frontier League, and just from speaking with some other managers over there that I know, they said he’s a bulldog,” Horn said.
“He just takes the ball, goes out every five days and he competes and he battles. Ultimately, he throws a lot of strikes and gets ahead in counts and he doesn’t give in.”
Fisher has been excellent for the Ducks in his short stay with the club – he recorded a 2.77 ERA in his two regular season outings for Long Island as well – and is hopeful that Thursday’s Championship Series start is another milestone in a slow climb up the ladder that ends in fulfilling his major-league dreams.
“Anybody playing the game, the ultimate goal is to play in the big leagues,” he said. “Moving up is always a bonus. I’m focusing on the task at hand and making good pitches and letting stuff kind of take care of itself. It’s a blessing to be able to get the call here and be able to make a playoff run with these guys, and I’m not taking it for granted.”