By Micah Brown —
Under head coach Dan McDonnell and pitching coach Roger Williams, baseball has consistently produced pitchers who make it to the MLB. Louisville lost five players to last year’s draft and looks to replace four relievers and one starter.
Per McDonnell, the starting rotation will consist of four mainstays at the beginning of the season: Junior Nick Bennett, senior Bryan Hoeing, and sophomores Bobby Miller and Reid Detmers.
Bennett returns from an impressive 2018 where he compiled a 8-2 record, 2.84 ERA and 72 strikeouts over 73 innings. His performance in the ACC improved as a sophomore, as he held opponents to a .180 batting average and surrendered only 11 runs in 53 innings.
“Something that I’m a lot better with is my changeup command. It’s come a long way,” Bennett said. “That’s going to be really big for me this year. I love throwing it and coach Williams knows it.”
Miller also looks to continue improving after a stellar freshman year. In his first year as a Cardinal, Miller posted a 2.97 ERA with a 6-1 record, topped off with a 1.06 WHIP (walks or hits per innings pitched).
“Bobby is super versatile,” McDonnell said. “With his pitch selection, his talent, we see him as a weekend starter.”
Hoeing returns for his senior year, facing the challenge of jumping from the bullpen to starting games. Last season, he showed little signs of struggle in any regard and threw for a 2.88 ERA with a 7-2 record.
Though some pitchers can struggle moving to a starting position, McDonnell is confident in his senior.
“We want to see Hoeing start,” McDonnell said. “He’s strong, durable and clean mechanically.”
Selected in the 2018 MLB draft by the San Francisco Giants, Hoeing made the difficult decision to come back for one more season in the Ville.
“I talked with Coach Mac a lot this summer,” Hoeing said. “We weighed the pros and cons of leaving or coming back. We felt like if I came back, I can help contribute to a special year and hopefully get to Omaha to win a national championship.”
Detmers joins Hoeing in moving from the bullpen to starting role. He provided a solid presence as a freshman, but allowed 30 runs over 55.2 innings for a less than stellar 4.85 ERA. With a season’s experience down, Detmers should have the calm and cool to improve on the mound.
With 11 returning pitchers and seven incoming freshman, the team’s overall bullpen looks to be a strength for the Cards.
“We have a good balance of older guys and freshmen,” Bennett said. “Freshmen like Jack Perkins, Kerry Wright and Carter Lohman are going to be very beneficial this year.”
Junior Shay Smiddy could grow to be one of the bullpen’s go-to relivers. As a sophomore, he appeared in 23 games and finished with a 5-1 record, 2.96 ERA and 56 strikeouts.
“You can never have enough pitchers,” McDonnell said. “We don’t want to get comfortable, but coach Williams and I feel really good about the options we have on the mound.”
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File Photo / The Louisville Cardinal