Watson settling into closer role for Bucs

Watson settling into closer role for Bucs

PITTSBURGH -- Tony Watson is adjusting to the closer's role with the Pirates. He has pitched well since taking over after Mark Melancon was traded away, earning seven saves so far in August.

"I feel good," Watson said. "After the first couple, I've settled in and feel comfortable out there in the ninth inning. The first couple were adrenaline-packed. I learned how to settle in to that and just go out there and be me and trust my stuff and try to do the job."

Watson, however, has struggled with his control, allowing six hits and four walks in 7 2/3 innings, while giving up four runs (three earned). He has faced the three-man minimum just one time in eight opportunities, putting runners on in nearly every outing.

Watson's last save on Wednesday against the Giants wasn't easy. He needed 28 pitches to retire the side, and he put the potential winning run on base.

The 31-year-old lefty, who has a 2.77 ERA and 1.10 WHIP over 52 innings this season, doesn't think the ninth inning is any different than his previous role as the setup man.

"The first couple times, you had a little kick of adrenaline, but you are not out there trying harder or anything like that," Watson said. "It's the same thing. You've got to go out there and get your three outs. You've got to execute your pitches. The only thing different is that it's the last inning and nobody's pitching behind you, hopefully, because you've locked it down and got the job done."

George Von Benko is a contributor for MLB.com based in Pittsburgh. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.