In order to get to know Oregon better before tomorrow's Civil War matchup, BTD did a quick Q&A with Kristopher Anderson over at Addicted to Quack. Be sure to check out ATQ the rest of the month for all your Duck Baseball related needs. His answers are below. Enjoy!
Q. Do you have any idea who will start for Oregon on Tuesday, and if so, how has he looked so far this season?
A. I’m not sure who will be starting. My guess is Christian Jones. He was in the Ducks three-man rotation early in the season, but missed nearly a month with a back injury. He’s started seven games in the hill for the Ducks and has a 4.22 ERA. He made an appearance over the weekend against Cal, but it was an away game so I didn’t see it.
I did see him pitch last week against the Portland Pilots, and it was probably the worst I’ve seen him pitch. His location was erratic, forcing him to just put the ball over the plate. The Pilots rocked him as he gave up two earned runs, on two hits and took the loss. It clearly wasn’t his day.
Q. What should we expect to see out of the Oregon bullpen? A mixture of relievers, or just a long reliever and a closer?
A. The bullpen largely consists of guys that have the arm strength to pitch two, three or four innings. There are certainly designated bullpen pitchers, but I think most of them would have the ability to make a start on the hill. It is a young staff, and they clearly have some maturing to do. For a team with a lack of offense, many games are going to be close. When the bullpen is called on in those types of games, everyone collectively holds their breath.
There are guys like Scott McGough who show glimpses of what the Ducks hope he can be, but they are prone to the bad inning. It is a young staff, and sometimes it seems like the pressure of entering a close game with runners on base, for example, can be a little too much to handle at times.
Q. The Beavers are a very young team, what about the Ducks? Are they very young, and which newcomers have made an impact thus far?
A. 21 of the Ducks 35 players are underclassmen. I think that says it all. Their starting outfield is usually sporting three freshmen. There are the usual names that will be talked about: Stefan Sabol, Brett Thomas, Aaron Jones. Those three players have been relied on quite a bit this season, and hopes have been that they would mature quicker than freshmen are usually asked to. They’ve had their ups and downs, but they won’t have a major impact until next season. It’s all about the potential.
One name to look for, and who I think will be in Tuesday’s starting lineup is Ryon Healy. I first took notice of him during the Ducks series against Arizona. The Ducks were calling the final game of the series the most important game of the year. Healy doesn’t start many games and head coach George Horton decided to start him in the rubber match. He went 3-for-3 and even clocked his first career home run. Most of the Ducks’ young players quiver in the big games and the big moments—Healy doesn’t.
Last weekend against Cal—in the rubber match—Healy had his best game of the series by going 3-for-4 with three runs batted in. Keep him on your radar.
Q. What is Oregon's offensive identity? More "swing for the fences", or a lot of small ball like the Beavers play?
A. Um, the Ducks certainly don’t swing for the fences. They ranked as one of the last teams in the country in home runs last year, and the new bats haven’t been helping that cause. Horton plays a small ball style of play. He actually plays more small ball than I’ve ever seen a team play. I wrote in one article that it was becoming too predictable. I like that style of play, but I was able to guess, with way too much accuracy, when the Ducks would put a hit-and-run on or things like that. My belief is it is all because of a lack of faith Horton has in his offense.
Rest of the Q&A after the breakQ. Who should Beaver fans be looking out for on Oregon's roster?
A. As I said before, Ryon Healy has maybe the most potential of any freshmen on the Ducks’ roster. Another player, and Oregon’s best offensive player, is Danny Pulfer. He’s reached base in more than 25 consecutive games, and has really busted out since being moved to the leadoff role midway through the season. He’s been one of the few bright spots to this season, and probably the most exciting offensive player to watch on the Ducks.
Q. What do you make of Oregon's postseason chances?
A. After Cal took two out of three games last weekend, I think that puts an end to their postseason hopes. We have seen how unpredictable the Pac-10 has been this year, but a 5-10 conference record just seems like too much to overcome this year. I said before the Arizona series that the Ducks would have to win every Pac-10 series throughout the rest of the year to have a legitimate shot at regionals. Now that they fell to Cal, the smart move would be to play the underclassmen and get them experience.
Q. After a great season in 2010, what has caused the team to go backwards this season?
A. I think Horton put too much pressure on this team before the season started. The Ducks were ranked in the top-15 in almost every preseason college baseball poll. Horton didn’t talk about regionals or super regionals being the goal, but instead started talking about how realistic Omaha was for his team. I didn’t like that approach when this team was going to be relying so heavily on underclassmen. Those kinds of expectations can’t be put on kids that have never proven themselves at this level.
We’ve continuously seen the pressure get to players, and I think that Horton created the pressure before the season started.
A. Oregon State