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Dermody ready to build on success and return to the big leagues

He faced five batters. He struck out all five.

It was an impressive appearance for Buffalo Bisons reliever Matt Dermody, who threw 23 pitches, 18 of them for strikes, and picked up the win as the Herd defeated Rochester, 5-2, at Coca-Cola Field Wednesday afternoon.

"I was just getting ahead in the count whether it be fastball or slider and finishing them off with two strikes," Dermody said. "You can't think about striking out a guy with one strike or no strikes. Just get ahead. Pound the zone. You're just trying to stay one pitch at a time mentality."

That's the mentality that Bisons manager Bobby Meacham knows well. He saw that in Dermody last season when he made six relief appearances for Double-A New Hampshire. Meacham managed Dermody with the Fisher Cats for about a month, watching the lefty post a 0.92 earned run average, leading to a promotion to Triple-A Buffalo.

In his debut with the Bisons on July 14, he pitched a shutout inning. That set the tone as he pitched scoreless relief in 11 of his 15 outings with the Herd.

"Really he just gets to the next thing," Meacham said. "Just execute pitches. It's fun to watch guys just not worry about the hitter so much as just execute what he can do. Once he lets go of the ball, it's over. So I want him to concentrate on that. He did that all year last year for me, for that month, and today was a great example of what he can do again."

Dermody rocketed through the Toronto Blue Jays organization last season, starting in Single-A Dunedin before being promoted to New Hampshire and then Buffalo. He earned a call-up to the Blue Jays making his Major League debut on Sept. 3 against Tampa Bay. He made five appearances for Toronto last year, giving up four runs over three innings of work.

"Last year was kind of a whirlwind for me," Dermody said. "It was a cool experience playing on all those teams. I think now it's just to prove I can be at this level and the level above. Just every day I have to prove myself."  Last year "I learned who I was and just my delivery and what works and what doesn't work for me."

What doesn't work for him any longer are odd off-season jobs. After the 2015 season, which he spent in Dunedin, Dermody went to New York City and spent time as a bicycle messenger.

"I did that for two months in New York City and that was quite the experience," Dermody said. "I actually didn't mind the job. It was on the bike, outside every day, seeing the city. It was kind of cool. It was tough on the legs, though. I had sore quads for about a month straight."

That was not on the to-do list after the 2016 season.

"Oh no," the 26-year-old native of Norwalk, Iowa said. "Didn't do that."

"I was actually playing a lot of baseball this off-season," Dermody said. "I got invited to the Arizona Fall League so I played there until Thanksgiving. Then after Thanksgiving I kinda just put the brakes on, cooled it, hung with my family a little bit and then got back down to Florida in mid-January and  started throwing and training. It was kind of a short off-season for me this year."

But the extra work paid off. Dermody made a positive impression with the Blue Jays in spring training, already building on his success from last season. The mechanics are there, but so too is the approach of what it takes to be a Major League pitcher.

"I think guys like that, in general, they see success and they say, 'OK I know what it takes to get there. I know what I need to do to get back there and I'm determined to do all the work it takes to make it back,'" Meacham said. "Hopefully that's the case with Matt. He just feels like he knows what he's doing and can build on last year and get back up there and help the big club.

"It's not overwhelming anymore. It's not like, 'Wow it's my childhood dream.' It's like I've been there and now let me just concentrate on doing the best I can so I can get back there."

 

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