UW Baseball 2013 Season Preview: Pitchers
Feb. 11, 2013
SEATTLE - The 2013 college baseball season gets underway this Friday, Feb. 15, when the Huskies travel to face UC Davis in a three-day, four-game series. The Huskies, under fourth-year head coach Lindsay Meggs, will be striving to reach the postseason this spring, which would mean making another step forward from last year's 30-25 finish.
Over the past couple of days, we've been taking a look at the 2013 team, broken into three parts. If you haven't yet read parts one and two, have a look by clicking on the links above. In this third and final edition, we'll have a look at the UW pitching staff:
On the face of it, Washington's pitching staff lost a lot from a unit that last year posted a solid 3.62 ERA and walked just 144 batters in 485 innings. Top starter Aaron West moved on to the pros while Jeff Brigham, an experienced part-time starter and part-time reliever, as well as Joshua Fredendall, last season's closer, will miss the 2013 season due to injury.
That said, there are more than a couple experienced pitchers back who don't lack for a history of success.
Coach Meggs says that, entering the season, he expects junior Austin Voth, sophomore Tyler Davis and fourth-year junior Nick Palewicz to occupy the three weekend starter spots while junior Tyler Kane takes over as the closer.
Voth has been a starter much of the last two seasons, starting 13 as a freshman and 11 last year.
"He's been up to 93 in the fall and has thrown a much better slider," Meggs says of Voth. "The last couple of years, he really hasn't had a second pitch that he can throw for strikes. Now he has a second and a third. He has a slider that's been a plus pitch for him this offseason and he's throwing a very good change-up. Right now, that's kind of what separates him from Palewicz as far as being the Friday guy. We need him to step up and make that jump."
As a freshman last season, Davis emerged as a starter just prior to the start of the conference season and held that role the rest of the way, posting a 3.57 ERA and a .217 opponent batting average over 19 appearances.
"His velocity has improved, which isn't why he's out there," Meggs notes. "His success is going to be based on pitching backwards. He's almost a guy who you hope is behind in the count so that he can throw a 2-1 breaking ball or a 1-0 change. That's how he's successful."
Palewicz, a 6-foot-4 righty, spent two seasons on the shelf due to injury before pitching in 25 games, all in relief, last season. This year, Meggs expects him to move into a starting role. When it was clear that Brigham wouldn't be able to go this year, Meggs and his staff went to Palewicz.
"We felt like Nick's best chance of being successful because of the kind of kid he is and his arm strength, is to know every week when he's going to pitch and prepare for that," Meggs explains. "Over the summer, he was up to 95 and lit it up in the California Collegiate League. If he can be 95 on Sunday when guys are tired and maybe there are some slow bats, I think he be the guy that can give us six or seven innings."
Assuming those three settle into their roles as the weekend-rotation starters, Meggs expects sophomore Jared Fisher and Zach Wright to be the most likely candidates for the midweek starting spots, though he notes that he thinks Wright will be used regularly out of the bullpen to bridge the gap from starter to closer.
"Zach would be our most likely candidate to try and get us to Kane," Meggs expounds. "Zach's got enough stuff to start, but we think we need him in the middle of the game to get us as close as possible to the end of the game."
Kane has been a fixture in the Husky bullpen each of the last two years, acting mainly in a setup role. Over 51 career starts, appearances, he's compiled a 3.69 earned run average and was 7-2 with a 2.19 ERA over 26 outings last season. Over the summer, he set a West Coast League record with 13 saves for the Wenatchee (Wash.) Applesox.
Those pitchers are all of the Huskies' most experienced. After them, it will be up to the less-seasoned veterans and the group of newcomers to eat up the innings.
Last season, then-sophomore Dae Yang Kim pitched in just six games, totaling six and two-thirds innings. He'll hope to increase those numbers in 2013.
"Dae Kim is going to have to help us out in the bullpen," Meggs explains. "He has good stuff and just needs to get in the strike zone."
Six-foot-seven Trevor Dunlap, a JC transfer from Columbia Basin College, is another top candidate for innings.
"Trevor is a guy who can come in and throw strikes," says Meggs. "He's a fastball/slider guy who was 91 in the fall and with his downhill plane, we think he can give right-handers some problems."
Meggs also thinks a pair of right-handed freshmen - Troy Rallings and Alex Nesbitt - can get some time on the mound this season. Fellow freshman Kyle Cho is a bit behind the rest, due to injury, as the season begins.
"Rallings is a guy who can throw three pitches for strikes," says Meggs. "His fastball is in the upper 80s and he has a plus-plus slider as well a pretty good change-up. Troy will be a guy, as will Nesbitt, who will help us in the middle innings."
As far as left-handers go, Meggs has a pair of true freshmen - Will Ballowe and Matt Lunde - and a junior, Jacob Coats, who made just one appearance in his first year as a Husky last spring. He hopes that one or more of them will give him a left-handed option out of the pen.
"Ballowe's just inexperienced, but has good stuff. He's a big kid and is going to be a factor here before it's all over," Meggs says. "Coats has battled some arm injuries, but has been healthy and was much, much better this fall."