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Arizona baseball: Wildcats changing up pitching rotation ahead of ASU series

A surprise name taking the mound in the series finale

Jason Bartel

After struggling to find consistent starting pitching the past several weeks, Andy Lopez is making some big adjustments to the Arizona Wildcats' weekend rotation.

Cody Hamlin will remain the first starter of the weekend, pitching on Saturday in Phoenix against ASU. Then the changes start.

Left-hander Xavier Borde will take over the next day, replacing Robby Medel, who had been in that slot all year.

But then comes the surprising part. Third baseman/closer Bobby Dalbec will get the nod on Monday night against the Sun Devils.

"We had been thinking about starting Dalbec as early as last year at the end of the year," Lopez explained on Tuesday. "He's got good stuff. He's just got a good arm, and sometimes when you look at innings pitched; we've had 12 Pac-12 games, and I think he's got eight innings pitched, so you may not be getting as much as you can out of that guy's arm."

Coach said he's not sure if Dalbec will hit for himself on Monday, but he will still start the first two games of the series at third base. That lineup decision will come based off matchups against ASU's starter. The Sun Devils typically pitch left-hander Brett Lilek in series finales, which makes it more likely Dalbec will hit for himself since that takes Michael Hoard out of play as a DH option.

Taking over Dalbec's closer role will be Tyger Talley, who served as the team's closer for a good chunk of the 2014 season after Mathew Troupe's elbow blew out.

Talley's been struggling with some arm numbness his last two starts as he progresses through his outing, which made Lopez make the decision to put him in a shorter role.

"I think Tyger can give you two good innings," continued Lopez. "Plus another one in the course of a weekend. So three good innings in a three-game series. But his velocity, when it gets to about 35-40 pitches, it starts to drift down a little bit."

"(The trainers) think there's some nerve issues going on there. Not in his arm, but in his upper shoulder. It's almost like a sciatica."

"Coach said he wants to throw me in the back end of the bullpen and move Dalbec to the starter on Sunday to make us stronger as a staff," Talley added. "Now our bullpen's a lot older, and I think it strengthens us all around from starting pitching to the bullpen."

"I've done it before and I think I'll do a fine job at it right now."

The move will also add Robby Medel as an option in middle relief, in addition to guys like Nathan Bannister and Austin Schnabel. ASU is a team that wins games in the late innings, so having all of these options is kind of what the Wildcats need this weekend.

Interesting move, and a pretty big move to make right in the middle of Pac-12 play. Hope it pays off for everyone.