Bullpen turnaround helping USF

Posted: April 26, 2017 in Baseball
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Andrew Perez is just one of the bullpen arms that has put together a turnaround season compared to 2016.

USF is having a great year at 32-8 as they enter Wednesday. The hitting has been great and the starting pitching has been just as good, but it has been the relief pitching that has really helped the Bulls to one of their best seasons in recent history. Three relievers in particular have had break out seasons compared to their 2016 campaigns. 

Last year, the Bulls had a staff ERA of 4.43 and opponents were hitting .255 against them. Now there are a lot of factors that go into these numbers including injuries, personnel, etc., but at the end of the day, the numbers stand along with the 24 win mark. This year, the Bulls staff has put together an ERA of 2.64 while holding opponents to a .210 average against them. Now again, these numbers reflect changes to the staff with big arms like Shane McClanahan joining the rotation, but another reason behind the big turn around has to be contributed to the relief pitching.

Outside of Tommy Eveld last year, the staff was limited in what they could call up in relief. In 2017 though, the arms that were once either shaky or hardly pitched have become the cornerstones of the bullpen for Coach Mark Kingston.

Let’s start with one of the key contributors in Mark Savarese. Last year, Savarese was 1-1 in 8 games, posting a 7.84 ERA. He threw 10.1 innings, allowing 14 hits, 9 runs, 8 walks, and struck out 12 batters while opponents hit .326 (!!) against him, yuck. Well, he’s turned it around this year. In 2017, Savarese, is 2-0 in 15 games while a 2.29 ERA. He has thrown 19.2 innings, allowing 16 hits, 9 runs, 2 walks while punching out 26 batters and holding them to a .216 ERA.

Another arm that has had a break out year is sophomore Andrew Perez. Last year, Perez appeared in 20 games, starting 2 and went 1-5 with a 6.75 ERA (had one save). Perez had a great arm, but the results were just not there for him. He worked 30.2 innings, allowing 32 hits, 25 runs, walked 26 batters and struck out 36 (.276 average against him). This year the coaching staff have put him in a defined position as the closer and the results have been incredible. Perez is 3-2 this year in 19 games, leading the team with 6 saves along with a 1.42 ERA. He has thrown 25.1 innings, allowing 12 hits, 5 runs, walking 9 and striking out 37 while opponents are hitting just .145 on the year against him. Pretty solid numbers for a guy that closes out the games for the Bulls.

Lastly, one of the biggest surprises this year as been Ryan Valdes. Valdes appeared in 1 game last year, throwing just 3 inning, while allowing 6 hits, 4 runs, 1 walk and striking out 3. This year? Valdes is 8-0 (leads the team record-wise) in 14 games (4 starts) with a 2.98 ERA. He has thrown 42.1 innings, allowing 34 hits, 15 runs, walked 18 and has struck out 43 batters (.214 average against him). After barely sniffing the mound last year, Valdes has become a go-to middle relief/starter for the pitching staff.

While the starting pitching and offense have been huge contributors to the success the Bulls have enjoyed all season, the bullpen has been an equal part of it. Being able to turn to the pen and have reliable arms has been a huge addition this year. When Kingston goes to Valdes or Savarese in the middle innings or like we saw on Saturday, a starter is hurt, he can get quality innings late. And when he needs to close the door, Perez has been there all year.

They will get a chance once again tonight to notch another win as they take on Stetson.

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