The 2018 season ended as well as it could have for Oregon State. A huge reason why was coach Nate Yeskie and the pitching staff. A team ERA of 3.29 was good enough for 12th in the nation and 2nd in the Pac-12 and Beaver pitchers racked up some nice individual achievements as well.
Kevin Abel led all freshman in strikeouts with 109. Luke Heimlich was named National Pitcher of the Year by the College Baseball Foundation. There was plenty to be happy about for that position group. So where do they go from here? The Beavers only lose one pitcher to graduation, so the chances to be just as good, if not better, are looking great right now.
Departure: Luke Heimlich
The Friday night starter was obviously a big part of the starting rotation and the team at large for the last four years. His career win/loss record was 36-13 with 49 starts and 385 strikeouts. Heimlich also set the program record for strikeouts in a single season in 2018 with 159. The left hander’s professional future is still TBD.
Who’s Back: RHP Bryce Fehmel, LHP Jordan Britton, RHP Sam Tweedt, RHP Dylan Pearce, LHP Brandon Eisert, LHP Jake Mulholland, RHP Grant Gambrell, RHP Mitchell Verburg, RHP Dakota Donovan, RHP Cade Warren, LHP Christian Chamberlain, RHP Kevin Abel, RHP Nathan Burns, RHP Michael Attalah
Fehmel has proved to be a reliable starter since finding a place in the rotation and earned a 10-1 record this past season with a 3.19 ERA and 64 strikeouts. He’ll either become the Friday starter in 2019, or stay in his Saturday spot for his upcoming senior season.
After an admirable freshman campaign that culminated in a masterful showing at the College World Series, Kevin Abel (a sophomore in 2019) will more than likely take one of the other spots. In my head, it’s Fehmel=Friday and Abel=Saturday, but a lot can happen between now and February. That third spot in the weekend rotation is up in the air, but I definitely see Christian Chamberlain getting a real shot at it after seeing how well he came along and reacted to the pressure of the postseason.
Reno High alum Christian Chamberlain, a freshman at Oregon State, became the 11th local to win an NCAA team title and set a CWS record in the process. https://t.co/j2cnWHw4pg— Chris Murray (@MurrayRGJ) June 29, 2018
As far as relievers go, OSU still has their top guy Brandon Eisert (a rising junior with 102 career strikeouts in 103 innings pitched) along with closer Jake Mulholland (rising junior) who had 16 saves in 2018. The rest of the bullpen is full of experienced players who usually stepped up when their name was called this past season. The bullpen will also have a few new faces too, which brings me to the next part of this...
Who’s New: RHP Joey Mundt, RHP Jake Pfennings, RHP Brett Soulages, LHP Andrew Walling
Four new guys join an already talented and crowded bullpen next season. There’s some legitimate talent in this class (obviously), it’s just a matter of whether or not we see it in the next 12 months or so. Then again, OSU had plenty of great upperclassmen pitchers this season and guys like Abel and Gambrell managed to stand out.
Particularly with this new class, keep an eye on Jake Pfennings. He was a three-sport star in high school and was taken in the 35th round by the San Diego Padres in the 2018 MLB Draft. Pfennings officially announced that he’s going the college route though and some have even speculated that he’ll contend for some serious time in his freshman year.
Andrew Walling is also intriguing because of his versatility. For one, it never hurts to have another good lefty around. Second, Walling also has significant experience playing in the infield, so odds are Pat Casey and Yeskie will find a use for him one way or another.
What say you, BTD readers? Will Oregon State’s pitching staff be even better in 2019? Worse? Stay the same? Let us know with a comment or tweet at us.