For RubberDucks starter Eli Lingos, failures led to learning how to succeed

Brad Bournival
For the Beacon Journal
Starting pitcher Eli Lingos learned from a tough start to his Double-A career in 2019 and has become the ace of the RubberDucks' staff in 2021. [Mike Cardew/Beacon Journal]

It was 10⅔ innings and one start, but it meant the world to RubberDucks pitcher Eli Lingos.

The left-hander came up to the Double-A RubberDucks from the Single-A Lake County Captains in 2019 in the middle of the season and gave up nine runs, eight earned, on nine hits with four walks and four strikeouts.

Not exactly great numbers, but those two outings meant the world for Lingos, the No. 1 starting pitcher for the 2021 Ducks.

“I think it gave me a better idea of what to expect coming into the season,” Lingos said. “Each level, you notice little things on how hitters approach things in the box. That helped me with how to attack guys this year and come in with the mindset I need to have to go into this season.”

It also gave Lingos a chance to come into his own.

The 25-year old went back to Lake County and finished 3-4 with a 3.66 ERA and 95 strikeouts.

“We sent him up in 2019, which was a tough task at the time,” RubberDucks pitching coach Owen Dew said. “It did help him. He had success up here. He had some success in one of the starts."

What Lingos learned even more was how to become a sponge.

He asked questions. Watched how every starter attacked hitters and saw how important routine was.

What Lingos learned even more was how to become the model of a pitching staff.

“I learned to lead by example,” he said. “I also learned when you have a bad inning to flush it and take that approach to every batter. With the pitching staff we have, it’s kind of like it’s just your turn. We kind of learn from the pitchers before us. You have a different pitcher starting the series each week. You take what they did, learn from it and take it into your start.”

Lingos comes into his start Sunday against the Erie SeaWolves with a 3-0 record and 2.95 ERA. He has walked eight and struck out 16.

“He’s had some good outings and a couple that were really rough, but you would never know with how he carries himself,” Dew said. “In his bullpen sessions and in between workouts, he’s the same guy. He’s a really good role model. He’s a college performer. He’s been in this role before. He pitched up at this level. We feed off of this guy.”

A 22nd-round draft pick of the 2018 draft, Lingos is also a student of the game.

With the six-game homestands, Lingos can go to school on what other pitchers do in front of him.

Under normal circumstances, he would have pitched already this week, but the rainouts on Wednesday and Thursday pushed his start to Sunday.

That has given him an entire week to crash video and learn from those who have faced the SeaWolves before him.

“You have to know the pitch profiles of some of the other guys,” Lingos said. “You know who pitches like you, who not so much. This is what they did to be effective. When you’re next to someone who already pitched, you can ask what works and what doesn’t.”

The ceiling for Lingos, an Arizona State product, is solid.

He’s 2-0 in his past two starts and has allowed only one run and struck out seven.

His fastball isn’t among the elite, but he mixes well and has a deceptive delivery.

“He’s an older kid, a professional kid,” Dew said. “He hasn’t even scratched the surface of what he can do. I’m really excited about Eli and the work that he’s done so far and the work he’ll do in the next three months.”