Tyler Beede has rode the highs and lows of baseball's roller coaster in 2018.
"I'd say I'm super grateful for it," Beede said in a phone conversation.
The 25-year-old Giants prospect made his major league debut in April but struggled in two starts, was moved to the bullpen in Triple-A, had an injury scare in July, and is now back in Sacramento with September call-up season looming.
"The things that you learn going through the struggles of a baseball season are invaluable in terms of letting you grow, and not only on the field but your character and your morale and wanting to come back better than ever," Beede said.
Beede is back on the mound for the Sacramento River Cats after missing nearly three weeks. He had more of a scare than injury with the same groin that ended his season short in 2017. Rehabbing in Arizona, Beede made one hitless relief appearance in Rookie League where he struck out two and didn't hand out any walks.
Prior to this season, Beede had never come out of the bullpen in his professional career. He first took the hill as a reliever in Madison Bumgarner's rehab appearance on May 26 and threw the final four innings, where he did not allow a run on two hits, four strikeouts and three walks. But in his next three starts, he walked 13 batters and allowed 11 earned runs in 12 innings.
On June 17, Beede was moved exclusively to the bullpen. The former top prospect took the high road, knowing a change needed to be made.
"I was completely understanding in terms of how my season was going at that point and I knew an adjustment needed to be made," Beede said. "I'd say just hindsight wise, looking back at it, this was the best thing that could have happened to me in terms of allowing me to feel more comfortable again in terms of what I'm doing on the mound and then getting my confidence back."
Numbers never lie, but they also don't tell the complete story. Beede has a 7.28 ERA as a starter in Triple-A this season and a 6.23 ERA as a reliever. He also has a a 1.69 WHIP out of the bullpen compared to 1.94 as a starter and his strikeout to walk rate is slightly better as a reliever than starter - 1.75 as a reliever, 1.13 as a starter.
"I think numbers wise - it's tough to look at numbers and say there's been a huge improvement because pitching out of the ‘pen, if you give up a couple runs here and there then your ERA is just gonna stay up," Beede said. "But in terms of just how I'm feeling and commanding my stuff and feeling confident on the mound, I feel like I'm back to that confidence I had coming out of the 2016 season when I had my best year."
Since returning from his injury scare, Beede has eight strikeouts to two walks in 5 1/3 innings. When he first moved to the bullpen, Beede had to adjust to the mindset of a reliever. After years of pitching off his fastball and pacing himself, Beede has learned to throw the kitchen sink at the opposing team's offense and bring his best stuff for a short stint.
Despite finding positives mentally and physically with his change to the bullpen, Beede still envisions himself as a starter down the road. He expects to be stretched out in spring training with an opportunity to prove himself as a starter. That doesn't mean he won't accept an invite to the bullpen either in September or in the future for the Giants.
"I'm comfortable doing either, and obviously if there's an opportunity for me to be in the big leagues as a reliever, that's obviously the opportunity I'll take," Beede said.
Off the field, Beede made another change by deleting his Twitter, a decision he has urged his father to join him in. Beede uses a private Instagram account to share stories of his life, but found himself swimming in the negativity of Twitter.
"I feel like it just takes me out of my mindset where I'm playing the game for the wrong reasons and playing to please other people," Beede said on the social platform.
Beede made the change near the beginning of the season. The former first-round draft pick admits he read what people were writing as he struggled on the mound and found it simply didn't benefit him mentally to get the job done.
"I don't think they understand we are humans and we kind of have those moments like anybody else does where we're affected by the words of other people at times," Beede said. "If I see something or read something, I invest in it whether I say something back or not. I usually don't, but I obviously read it and see it.
"You just gotta understand that people usually say things on a whim and they don't necessarily mean it." Beede says he does see plenty of positives with Twitter as well and could one day be back on the website.
As September creeps on us, Beede is taking a day-by-day mindset and is focused on Sacramento, but his goal is certainly to get back to San Francisco this season. He follows the Giants every game and is always rooting for fellow Triple-A teammates who get the call to the bigs.
"If that's something they want to do and bring me up to get experience and pitch up there for that month, that would be huge," Beede said. "I know how beneficial it is to be up there. Not only to gain the experience of pitching in the big leagues, but to be around the guys in that atmosphere. I'm certainly hoping for that, but whether it happens or not, that's certainly not gonna take away from how I'm feeling right now."
This has not been the season Beede was hoping for on the field, there's no denying that. His 2017 season ended short by injury and once he wore a Giants jersey in 2018, he never wanted to take it off. And still, from the change on social media to the change in the bullpen, this is a year Beede would never take away.
"I think what I learned most is that I've been trying to do things for other people this year instead of do it for myself in a positive sense. I want to go out there and enjoy the game and I think moving to the bullpen allowed me to find the joy for the game again with wanting to go out there and have fun," Beede said.
"I wouldn't take back anything from this year in the way that it's going to get me prepared for the future, future seasons, and going forward in my life."