With the Nebraska Baseball team opening the 2019 campaign this weekend in Riverside, the Huskers will look to improve over their 2018 performance on the mound. Nebraska ran into the injury bug last season, and pitched to a 5.70 team earned run average. This season, the Huskers return what should be an exciting amount of pitching.
The good news for the Huskers is potentially their two best pitchers return from Tommy John Surgery in Chad Luensmann and Robbie Palkert. The Huskers will also get Connor Curry and Reece Eddins back from season ending injuries as well.
The only member of the Nebraska pitching staff to depart and transfer out was Andrew Abrahamowicz who transferred to Bowling Green State University in the Mid American Conference. Abrahmowicz should find great success at BGSU and we wish him well.
Nebraska will need to replace two thirds of their starting rotation with Luis Alvarado and Matt Warren both graduating. The good news for the Huskers is that Luensmann appears to be ready to step into the role of becoming the Friday night starter. With Luensmann and Matt Waldron forming the front end of the rotation, Nebraska will need to find some back end starters.
The Huskers have been stretching out numerous pitchers in anticipation of giving multiple pitchers the opportunity to win the third starting job. Nebraska will also need a fourth starter the first two weekends of the year, when they play four games against both UC-Riverside and Oregon State.
Candidates for the rotation should include Purdue transfer Gareth Stroh, Palkert, and possibly a few incoming freshman including Bo Blessie. Blessie might be the closest Nebraska has gotten to recruiting a true fireball pitcher as he runs it up to about 94-95.
With the possibility of having a Luensmann, Waldron, Stroh, Blessie rotation the Huskers could have depth in the bullpen.
The main pieces of the bullpen could become Tillotson, Palkert, Eddins, and Curry. New faces to the bullpen would include transfer Trey Kissack who transferred in from UNC-Greensboro. Incoming freshmen Tyler Martin and Kyle Perry could see multi inning roles in the bullpen as well.
Midweek, Nate Fisher could continue to see some of the same role he saw last year as he started at Creighton twice. Fisher should also be stretched out to start, and could get a start during the first two weeks of the season.
Pitchers who had inflated ERA’s last season but return again this season include Max Schreiber, Byron Hood, and Ethan Frazier. All three of these pitchers have similar tendencies to walk more batters than they strikeout. They need to trust their pitches and throw strikes.
The only pitcher who has made the injured list is Caleb Feekin, who did not pitch his Senior year in high school due to an injury he suffered during basketball season. Feekin will not be ready for the beginning of the year, but may be available later in the 2019 campaign.
Overall, Nebraska will not be the deepest team on the mound, but it is not hard to see how the Huskers improve over their 2018 campaign. If Nebraska could get the team ERA even down to around 4.50 their chances of returning to the postseason would improve vastly.