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OSU Baseball: Early Season Storylines

Pitching looks great, hitting is a work in progress

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-Mississippi State vs Oregon State Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Pitching has been fantastic

Despite some first game rust for Kevin Abel, Oregon State’s pitching staff has been stellar (as predicted) early in the season. Through four games they’ve allowed 9 runs (2.25 ERA) and if you remove Abel’s performance the rest of the pitchers have allowed just 5 runs in 31 innings (1.45 ERA).

Sam Tweedt looked a little shaky in his first start of the season and while I could see the third starter spot being up for grabs throughout the season, it almost doesn’t matter because of the incredible depth in the bullpen. Brandon Eisert, Christian Chamberlain and Jake Mulholland are incredible. Nathan Burns, Dylan Pearce and Mitchell Verburg all looked exceptional this weekend and we haven’t even seen from a few of the new arms like Jake Pfennigs, Bret Soulages or Andrew Walling. The Beavers pitchers are going to be one of the top groups in the nation once again.

Offense looks good... Not great

The Beavers have been pretty good with a .308 team batting average. They’ve scored 33 runs in four games, but as nit-picky as it is they’ve left a lot of meat on the bone. They’ve stranded 37 runners already and a few players have gotten off to a slow start behind the plate.

It’s fairly obvious that Adley Rutschman and Tyler Malone are the best hitters on this team and opposing pitchers know that. Both players have already been walked 7 times in just four games. Alex McGarry was one of the heroes of game one’s come-from-behind victory and his hot bat has continued to the tune of 7 hits, 7 RBIs and a .636 batting average. Kyler McMahan and Preston Jones have also gotten off to good starts.

The infielders on the other-hand have struggled offensively early. The ideal defensive lineup probably features Jake Dukart (3B), Beau Philip (SS), Andy Armstrong (2B) and Zak Taylor (1B). That group has just 9 hits in 53 at-bats (.159 batting avg) though. It’s obviously way too early to draw any conclusions after just four games, but this reinforces concerns that outsiders had about replacing the offensive production that guys like Trevor Larnach, Nick Madrigal, Steven Kwan and Cadyn Grenier provided in 2018.

The Coaching situation looks just fine

The Beavers find themselves in a very unique coaching situation. Pat Casey is already a living legend in Corvallis and while he’s retired from full-time coaching duties he’s not completely out of the picture and is still employed by the university. Meanwhile, Nate Yeskie is one of the most over-qualified pitching coaches of all-time and while he is getting a handsome salary, he also deserves to have his own club in the next few years. But, throughout all of it Pat Bailey is taking the reins and is no slouch himself.

Pat Bailey has already made some masterful moves to pinch hit McGarry and later Greg Fuchs who provided a game-winning hit. Overall, the Beavers already look like a well-coached team and Pat Bailey will have them ready for the Pac-12 portion of the schedule and hopefully another deep postseason run.

The Beavers return to action Thursday at noon against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Nebraska (3-1) looks like a significantly improved team that finished 2018 with a disappointing 24-28 record and should be a good test for Oregon State before they head back to Corvallis.