Welcome to the first in a series of articles previewing the Oregon State Baseball roster for the 2019 season! We’re excited for another season of Beaver baseball, and hopefully, these articles will give you all a reason to get excited as well.
Today, we will take a look at the starting pitching for Oregon State in 2019. There is plenty of reason for optimism with this group. So, without further ado, let’s get into the players!
Oregon State was lucky to have an overall strong pitching staff for most of the 2018 campaign. Luke Heimlich and Bryce Fehmel were rock-solid throughout the season, and helped OSU pile up the W’s. The third spot however, was up in the air for most of the season. A handful of different players manned the Sunday starter spot, but it mainly served as a rotating door for Casey to try different pitchers. Luckily for the Beavs, true freshman Kevin Abel took over down the stretch and never looked back. And you know the rest of the story in 2018.
Heading into 2019, the Beavs are fortunate enough to have one of the strongest 1-2 starting pitcher combos in the entire nation. Luke Heimlich may be gone, and replacing one of the top pitchers in college baseball will be difficult for any team. Fortunately, the Beavers will be returning Kevin Abel and Bryce Fehmel. Regardless of who is the Friday or Saturday starter, Oregon State won’t need to worry about the first two pitching spots this season. The third spot, however, is still up in the air for the Beavs. It will take some time for Pat Bailey to iron out who will eventually take that spot over.
Young Mr. Abel will look to take over the Friday starter role for the Beavs. Abel started as a true freshman for the Beavs in 2018 and battled to get comfortable for most of the season, as he was in and out of the third starter role in addition to some bullpen relief. He ultimately managed to flip the switch down the stretch of the season, and lock down the final starter spot before regionals. Abel put up an impressive numbers in his first season in college; finishing the year with a 8-1 record in addition to a 2.88 ERA. This isn’t even touching on his legendary postseason performances, including a 2 hit shutout against the fifth-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks to win the College World Series. Abel has the makings of a future number one overall pick, and should be the ace of the Beavs for the 2019 season.
Coming in behind Abel for the number two starter role will be Bryce Fehmel. Fehmel has been rock-solid for Oregon State over the course of his career in college. Fehmel served as the Saturday starter in 2018 and posted solid numbers with a 10-1 record to go with a 3.19 ERA. Fehmel is a pitcher who thrives on using the entire strike zone to locate and pepper in his pitches. Fehmel doesn’t have any single overpowering pitch in his arsenal, so he has to survive with locating his pitches and keeping batters off-balance. And so far in his career, he has done so effectively. Nate Yeskie has done a fantastic job of using Fehmel’s strengths to make a living as a Saturday starter. Fehmel should be rock-solid again this season, and will help the Beavs rack up even more W’s in 2019.
As great as the Friday and Saturday starters are, the final starter spot for OSU will be up in the air heading into the 2019 campaign. Expect Pat Bailey to use the time in Surprise, AZ to play around with the third starter spot. Some of the names to watch for could include Christain Chamberlain (3-0, 3.54 ERA), Grant Gambrell (5-1, 4.40 ERA) and Brandon Eisert (5-3, 2.53 ERA). I would expect Eisert to get the first shot at the final starter spot, but it wouldn’t be surprising if the staff wanted to try leaning on Chamberlain at some point down the stretch. Chamberlain is the youngest of the group, so the staff may want to fast-track his development with more starting chances. Any of the prior named pitchers are a quality players that should give Oregon State plenty of chances to win. Yet, don’t expect the Sunday starter spot to get locked down until after the Beavers trip to Arizona.
Regardless of who the staff elects as the Sunday starter, the starting pitching for Oregon State will be a massive strength of the Beavs in 2019. If Oregon State wants to make another run at Omaha in 2019, they will lean on the starting arms of this rotation early and often during this upcoming season.
Who are you most excited to watch in 2019? Who do you believe Pat Bailey will select as the final starter? Sound off with your thoughts in the comment section!