Arizona Junior pitcher Konner Wade - US PRESSWIRE
The ace is gone, but that's it! Everyone else from last year's national title run is coming back to defend the crown
The pitching staff was key to Arizona's success late in the year last year. Only one guy is gone from that staff: Kurt Heyer. Yes, Kurt has been the Friday night starter for the last three years, but Konner Wade showed in the CWS last year that he is ready to take control of this pitching staff.
Baseball America grades players and teams on a 20-80 scale. Arizona's starters and bullpen both received 60s from BA, the best of any of the categories for the team besides experience/intangibles, which received a 65.
Wade and James Farris showed the world last year just how deep this pitching staff is now. Expect to see them every Friday and Saturday this year. It will be interesting to see how Konner adjusts to facing the other team's greatest pitcher every week. And with some studs in the Pac-12 like Mark Appel (Stanford) and Trevor Williams (Arizona State), Wade will have the opportunity to prove to major league scouts just how valuable he is.
Farris was shaky at times last year, but in high pressure situations, he was at his best. He's always found the strike zone consistently, but can get knocked around a little bit. And he didn't typically go as deep into games as Heyer and Wade could, so hopefully he will have some more endurance this year.
Sunday's starter is still a little bit of a question. Expect senior Tyler Hale to be in there at the beginning of the year, but he has proven to be inconsistent over the years. If he falters, freshman Cody Moffett may be the man to take on the challenge, a left hander from Highland HS in Gilbert, AZ.
The bullpen is the strongest and deepest it's been in a long time. Matthew Troupe returns after having a dominating CWS. Although he sometimes makes it interesting, he seems to get the job done in high pressure situations over and over. Senior Nick Cunningham and junior Stephen Manthei will be the two other primary guys coming in from the pen to shorten games. Cunningham is similar to Hale, a senior who has yet to fulfill his potential. Manthei is a guy who has seen tons of success in his first two years on the mound for the Cats, and is a great second option if Troupe starts to struggle.
Arizona should have no problem keeping the opponents from crossing the plate this year. As long as the offense can rebound from losing over half of last year's lineup, the Cats should be in for another great season!
Rest of the staff:
Nathan Bannister (RHP Fr.)
Augey Bill (LHP Sr.) - The guy's 6' 9", so it's easy to tell when he's about to come into the game.
Xavier Borde (LHP RS Fr.)
Tyler Crawford (LHP So.)
Kevin Elder (RHP Fr.)
Nick Hynes (RHP Fr.)
Vincent Littleman (LHP Sr.)
Jesse Scholtens (RHP Fr.)
Tyger Talley (RHP Fr.)