Click here for updates on the evolving coronavirus (COVID-19) situation at the University of Arizona

Column: Time is now for Arizona baseball pitchers to step up

s42115baseballemilygaucicmyk
Emily Gauci | The Daily Wildcat

Arizona baseball pitcher Nathan Bannister (35) throws a pitch during Arizona's 4-1 loss to USC on April 2 at Hi Corbett Field. Bannister and the Wildcats have struggled mightily on the mound this season.

It’s been awhile since I wrote a column and, unfortunately for the Arizona baseball team, it’s also been a while since its last Pac-12 Conference series win.

It seemed like the team was unstoppable after the Wildcats swept Oregon at Hi Corbett Field near the end of March.

The team has definitely been stopped.

MORE FROM THE DAILY WILDCAT

The USC Trojans visited Tucson the weekend after the Oregon series and completely brought the brooms out. Arizona then lost the series against ASU and Oregon State.

The Wildcats had a pretty good shot at playing in June, but now that shot looks questionable.

Arizona cracked in some top-25 rankings after sweeping the Ducks, but lost that privilege after losing three conference series in a row.

Next up for Arizona is a home series against California, after facing ASU on Wednesday.

Cal is above Arizona in the conference standings, with just one more Pac-12 win, and will visit Tucson coming off a series loss against UCLA.

Putting things in perspective, Arizona has lost seven times in nine games.

Sure, the team has already surpassed last year’s total wins, but that’s not enough for the guys who seek to play in June.

What does Arizona coach Andy Lopez and his team have to do to bounce back and win a series? They can start by working on their pitching.

Although the pitching was more consistent during the OSU series than the ASU series, there’s still some room for improvement on the defensive end. The main reason for the losses is what’s happening on the mound.

The team is pitching to a 4.07 ERA, which stands at the bottom half of the Pac-12 pitching rankings, just above Stanford and Utah.

A talented and deep offense has been the reason why Arizona hasn’t been as bad as Utah and Stanford this season, as the Wildcats lead the conference with a .313 team batting average.

You can start by looking at Bobby Dalbec’s recent performances at the plate.

The sophomore is leading the Pac-12 with 12 home runs on the season; and let’s make it clear that the Wildcats probably would have left Tempe on the wrong end of a sweep, against their rivals, if it wasn’t for his second bomb of the game during the last game of the ASU series. Arizona needs to capitalize on both ends now after changing the pitching rotation once again.

Lopez has pegged Cody Hamlin, Nathan Bannister and Dalbec as his weekend starters now.

Bannister squeezed his way into the rotation and got his first win as a starter to improve to a 6-1 record.

If there was ever a time for Bannister’s arm to get hot, it’s now.

The junior led his team in last year’s Cape Cod Baseball League summer season, and now, Arizona could surely use Bannister’s hot arm more than ever.

Lopez talked about the pitching talent he had this season before the year started. So far, that hasn’t been the case.

The time for the guys to show that talent is now, while there’s still enough time for the Wildcats to redeem themselves.

_______________

Follow Rose Aly Valenzuela on Twitter.


Share this article


UA COVID-19 Test Tracker

Daily (12/7)
607 14 2.3%
Total (8/2)
65,401 1,054 1.6%
Includes tests since August 2, 2021
Data from https://covid19.arizona.edu/updates
Updated December 7, 2021