ARLINGTON -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia paid young relief pitcher Michael Kohn no small compliment when he praised his "makeup" as one of the factors that has enabled the rookie right-hander to flourish in his first exposure to the Major League environment.
In his his third professional season and fourth as a pitcher, Kohn has forged a 2.11 ERA across 21 1/3 innings, with a 2-0 record entering Sunday. The South Carolinian has held hitters to a .227 batting average with 20 strikeouts.
"His makeup is good," said Scioscia, who has seen Kohn climb the depth chart into a potential back-end role in the bullpen.
"He's a former catcher and has an understanding of the pitcher-catcher relationship from a different perspective. He's really come a long way in a short amount of time. His aptitude should enable him to progress into a potential back-end guy."
Kohn showed his composure in working out of a two-on, none-out situation in the bottom of the 11th inning on Friday night against the Rangers to nail down a save for fellow reliever Rich Thompson, whose ERA is 1.45 ERA in 12 innings entering Sunday.
For Kohn, it was one of those tests managers and club executives use to evaluate young talent trying to make an impression, and he passed impressively by striking out Elvis Andrus and Michael Young after a brilliant play by shortstop Andrew Romine created an out at third on a force.
"The way I handle myself, trying not to let things rattle me on the mound," Kohn said when asked what he thought Scioscia meant with the comment about his makeup.
"I was taught to have a poker face. In a situation like that, I have to make sure my head is clear and take a deep breath. And then just do what you've done playing the game for 18 years."
In Kohn's case, however, playing the game for most of those years was from a hitter's viewpoint. He didn't become a pitcher until his senior year at College of Charleston when he went to the mound on a lark, found that he could throw in the mid-90s, and discovered a whole new career path.
Scioscia has seen Kohn's velocity dip "two notches" from 93 mph consistently last season to 91 this year. The manager would like to see him bring it back to that level, and as Kohn's self-assurance rises, he'll be able to cut loose with a little more freedom.
Kohn has shown a consistent ability to get hitters out even without his premium stuff. This goes to makeup, the catch-all phrase for having the ability to manage crises with poise and intelligence.