WCSN’s Evan Webeck and Madison Romine give their picks during midseason grades.
Trevor Williams: B+
The junior has solidified his Friday night position, building on progress made in 2012 working behind current minor leaguer Brady Rodgers. Despite improving his control, Williams has regressed in some areas. The right-hander is on pace to walk several more batters than in 2012 and his ERA has not been nearly as impressive (2.84 in first half of 2013 and 2.05 in 2012).
Williams shouldn’t be expected to replicate his stellar 2012 numbers. Ignoring the minor statistical digressions, Williams continues to do exactly what head coach Tim Esmay and pitching coach Ken Knutsen desire from their Friday night starter: eat up innings and keep the Sun Devils within striking distance.
And expect Williams to go deeper into games as the season rolls on. Williams averaged 6.65 innings per start in the first half of 2012 but more than an inning more (7.86) in the second half.
Ryan Kellogg: A
Why the freshman isn’t receiving an A+? The Canadian phenom threw a no-hitter (against the 3rd best squad in the nation), is currently 7-0 and, barring a catastrophic collapse, will finish the year as the best Saturday-night thrower in the Pac-12.
Despite still earning the win in his past two starts against UCLA and Oregon thanks to offensive outbursts, Kellogg surrendered four and six earned runs respectively, raising his ERA to a still-impressive 2.19.
Don’t worry about the recent struggles, though; Kellogg has proven his ability to compete with the best conference in the nation in his last four starts.
The Sunday Starters: D-
The trio of pitchers that have started on Sunday (excluding Ryan Kellogg’s Sunday start against Tennessee) have won one game this year, and are 0-4 in conference play. Esmay has yet to find a competent starter to close out a series.
In eight starts in 2013, Gillies, McCreery and Young have averaged less than three innings per start and have allowed opponents to gain nearly insurmountable leads by the time relievers clean up the damage. A conference and World Series run is hindered by the absence of an able third starter.
As right-hander Alex Blackford put it after losing the series finale against Bethune-Cookman on Feb. 17, “Sundays are when you win in college baseball.”
The Relievers: B
At the outset of the 2013 season, many thought senior Matt Dunbar would assume the role of closer previously held by Jake Barrett. Coach Esmay has relinquished that role, however, to the much more consistent Ryan Burr.
In 15 appearances, Burr posts a 2.38 ERA, accounting for six of the squad’s eight saves thus far. Dunbar and Alex Blackford have combined for 40.2 innings and have fulfilled their roles adequately. Keep Josh McAlister on your relief radar in the second half of 2013, as the junior has yet to give up an earned run (despite only making three appearances so far).
Expect McAlister to make more appearances in the second half as Esmay searches for solid Sunday relievers.