Throughout his career, sophomore Tyger Talley bounced around Arizona baseball’s pitching staff without a real designated role — until this season, that is, when he was suddenly pegged as the UA’s Sunday night starter.
Earlier this year, Talley, a 6-foot-2, 230-pound right-hander, looked destined to fit in as the Wildcats’ closer after junior Mathew Troupe, who was the team’s previous closer, converted to a starting role.
Talley appeared in 21 games for the Wildcats last season.
After the Wildcats announced that Troupe needed Tommy John surgery and junior Tyler Crawford faltered as the rotation’s No. 3 starter, head coach Andy Lopez gave Talley his chance to break into the depleted rotation.
Lopez said Talley’s done a good job, and for the most part has given the Wildcats a chance to win.
“He had one outing where he was a little iffy,” Lopez said. “But it wasn’t horrendous, and it wasn’t what we were seeing earlier on the year on Sunday when we were letting up six runs in the first.”
Talley has made the most of his recent starting opportunities, posting a respectable 3.78 ERA in Pac-12 starts against Utah, UCLA and USC. He has limited opponents to a .279 batting average and has only allowed 17 hits over 16.2 innings pitched.
“I’m just doing what the team needs from me,” Talley said. “I’m trying to step in, get wins and turn this season around. I believe in my stuff and the rotation as a whole. I think we could turn things around if we take it one game at a time.”
Arizona’s bats have been offensive
Lack of offensive execution has defined the Wildcats’ season.
Lopez said that the team simply didn’t get enough hits in last weekend’s three losses at USC. Lopez did say that the squad has been doing much better in the second half of the season.
“I would say the first part of the season was a nightmare,” Lopez said. “I could not believe some of the things we were doing on the field. I understood it from my perspective because I wasn’t here all fall, but it seemed as if they were not here all fall either.”
Lopez said the players aren’t making the same types of mental mistakes that they were earlier in the year, but the lack of consistency and execution has been weighing them down and stifling their true potential.
“As what usually happens in years like this is when the pitching goes good, the hitting disappears, when the hitting shows up, the pitching disappears and then some days they’re both there together and you win two out of three,” Lopez said. “We’ve been inconsistent, and it’s hard to win when we can’t execute at the plate.”
Sophomore shortstop Kevin Newman said that while the rotation is doing a good job hanging in there, its bats still need to come through with more timely hits to give the pitchers the run support they need.
Lopez said the Wildcats need to get tougher mentally.
“In the years that I’ve coached college baseball, I’ve always believed that on every pitch, somebody gives in, whether it’s the pitcher or the hitter,” Lopez said. “Right now, I’m sorry to say that again on my part, I haven’t gotten our guys to the point where we’re not the ones giving in, not getting that two-out hit and not getting that two-out pitch. We have to improve on that.”
—Follow Evan Rosenfeld @EvanRosenfeld17