Grading Beaver Baseball: The Starting Rotation

Ben Wetzler was a terrific pitcher and leader, but had some missteps. - Andy Wooldridge

In a continuing look back at the 2014 Beaver Baseball campaign, the next players to be graded are the starting pitchers.

Andrew Moore

The new pitcher for the USA team had a down year in comparison to his freshman year and there were many issues offered up; mechanical problems, problems handling the pressure as a sophomore, opponents having tape of his pitches, and giving away his pitches with tells were some of the offered problems. It is difficult to expect as much out of the right hander when he was a Freshman All-American with a lofty 14 wins, and it was unfair to expect that much.

It was a drastic change, his ERA shot up to 2.77 from 1.79 overall and in conference play it went from 1.38 to 3.41. He also went from 14-2 to 6-5. He also had shorter outings on the year as shown by the change from 131 to 94.1 innings pitched, although some of those lost innings can be attributed to a shorter postseason run. Strangely Moore's stats are not that far off from last year, they just happened in a smaller time frame:

H R ER HR BB SO
93 33 26 4 28 72
97 37 29 2 26 68

The only issue is that they happened in 36.9 less innings pitched.

Outside of just stats it was noticeable that Moore struggled with command initially, moving out his wind-up and he spent time from the stretch to try and fix the issue. He did get stronger as the year went on, where he began to find his footing against the Ducks, pitching 8 innings and only giving up two runs. He did pick up two more losses after that game, but those losses can be blamed mostly on the offense.

When it came down to the end Moore was still a trusted and reliable option, striking out 14 against North Dakota State, and making a relief appearance against UC Irvine in the final game. Red Storm may have struggled initially in the year, but as the Beavers were coming down the stretch he delivered and always kept the team in a position to win it. In a vaunted rotation, the comparisons to the other two starters were going to happen, especially when both of them looked terrific, but in the end Moore had a good season. It does look worse when compared to his previous season, or to Fry or Wetzler, but in the end he competed well for the Beavers and did a solid job overall.

Grade: B+

Jace Fry

The Pac-12 pitcher of the year had a great season, highlighted by a no-hitter early on in the season against Northern Illinois. On one hand it was against a poor team, but on the other hand it was a FREAKING no-hitter! It was only the fifth no-hitter in school history, and the last since Josh Osich in 2011.

Around that incredible game he still had a great year, leading the Beavs in innings pitched with 120.1 and had an ERA of 1.80. To step that up he had an ERA of 0.92 conference play. He led the team in strikeouts and had a K% of 21.0% with a BB% of 6.4%. Those are some tremendous stats already, and it should be noted he held a no-hitter against Arizona late into the game until he finally wore down. It was a terrific year for the lefty junior and he was awarded as such.

His one breakdown came at the most inopportune time though, as he struggled in an outing against UC Irvine. With no run support and with the aggressive Anteaters constantly pressing Fry lost a bit of his command and had some fielding miscues as well. It was only the real blemish on his season, as the Beavers needed a flawless performance from him, which was unfair, but it still resulted in a Beaver loss.

This should not diminish Fry's achievements though. Especially for a pitcher coming off of Tommy John surgery, it was a terrific year and Fry going to the White Sox in the third round was well-deserved.

Grade: A

Ben Wetzler

Wetzler started the season suspended, but once he came back may have been the best pitcher on the team, maybe even exceeding Jace Fry. His change-up was absolutely filthy all year, complementing his fastball well and getting batters to swing and miss claiming 83 strikeouts on the year. His K% was 21.7%, just edging out Fry. However his BB% was 8.1%, just behind Fry in that percentage.  He ended with a team high 12 wins and a 0.78 ERA. He also sported a .143 batting average against. Statistically it was truly an incredible year for Wetzler.

While watching him it was obvious Wetzler was throwing with an edge as well, whenever danger presented itself Ben managed to get whatever he needed in order to get the necessary outs in those situations. As far as a baseball player Wetzler would deserve an A on the year, but unfortunately his events outside of Goss negatively impacted the Oregon State season.

He got in trouble with law before the Washington series and mixed up the rotation, although the Beavers did win that series. It still might have had a ripple effect which messed with the routines of his fellow players. It is still hard to even try to blame him for the NCAA investigation, as it was a normal situation that seemed to be more about sour grapes (although it feels like everyone has since forgotten about what happened). In the end, Wetzler was a leader, he was the first to greet everyone to the dugout and he was constantly working to encourage those around him. His love for Oregon State deserves some mention as well, as he truly loved his school and his program, which spurred on his entire return.

In the end the baseball was nearly flawless as he was dominant all year. Without the distractions he would have been considered more seriously for Pac 12 pitcher of the year, but with his extra issues it was tough to beat the similar resume of Fry. His final score would have been an A without all the extras, but unfortunately that lowers his grade.

Grade: B+

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