(Photo: Sun Devil Athletics)
Eder Erives is a unique pitcher. He has pitched in more roles than any other pitcher on Arizona State’s staff, and has thrived no matter when he is thrust into the game.
The small-framed right-hander has started two games this season and also leads the team with five saves. His head coach Tracy Smith has entrusted him with multiple roles this season, pitching Erives whenever he feels is the best time to put him in the game, whether it is the sixth or ninth inning.
Originally slated to be a “super reliever,” which can be described as someone who can enter the game and get one out or pitch three innings, Erives was not prepared for the inconsistent workload.
“In the beginning coming into the fall, it was one of those things where I could have been a starter, but then talking to the coaches and them saying to embrace the role of coming in whenever and getting the job done,” he said. “It’s one of those things that the season came along and next thing you know on Opening Day I am closing and then throwing after that whenever my name is called.”
His stats aren’t extremely flashy, with a 3.54 ERA in 48 and 1/3 innings, which is the second-highest amount on the Sun Devils pitching staff. Outside of perhaps Seth Martinez, he is the most important pitcher on the team.
“You just have to be focused on each day and not thinking about tomorrow,” he said. “If my name is called to close one day and start the next I just have to be focused that day to not let them score and start up the next day.”
His mentality is part of what gives him the edge over batters when he is on the mound. The comfort he has in every role never puts him at a disadvantage because he is so familiar pitching at every time in the game.
“I like going into the game whenever it is,” Erives said. “When the game is on the line, it’s nice that they are calling your name and you are the one they want to give the ball to. Starting-wise, I have the opportunity to not let them score and let the offense do their job and keep them to a minimum amount of runs. Or if it’s coming into the game in the seventh and stopping the bleeding, I’m comfortable with whatever it is.”
Having appeared so often in relief, it may come as a bit of a surprise that Erives has been at his best at times while starting.
In two starts this season, he has 20 strikeouts in 14 innings and has allowed only four earned runs. Despite his success, it has been difficult for the coaching staff to consistently insert him in the rotation because he is frequently needed in late-game situations when the game is on the line.
His versatility and an arsenal that isn’t overpowering may bring up questions regarding his spot at the next level, but pitching coach Brandon Higelin seems to have a great comparison for him in the form of a former Sun Devil.
“If you look at Darin Gillies, he started and relieved last year,” Higelin said. “This year he is only a reliever in pro ball and is absolutely dominating. Being able to do both in college gives you a leg up in professional baseball.”
Present day, Erives’ ability to pitch whenever has been crucial for a pitching staff that lacks depth both in the rotation and bullpen.
“Even last year, he was able to start games when we needed him to,” Higelin said. “It’s nice to bring him in out of the back end of the bullpen or when the starter isn’t doing well and to start him when we can.”
Players like Erives come at a premium in college baseball, so the Sun Devils are grateful they have someone like him to pitch in every role. If they compete in the postseason, he will undoubtedly play a big part in their success.