Preview: UC Riverside Pitching

After having an outstanding pitching staff that led Riverside to the Big West title in 2007, they had to rebuild their pitching staff last season with most of their pitchers moving on to the minor leagues and the results were alarmingly bad as the staff ERA skyrocketed from 3.68 to 6.36. The staff ERA was marginally better in conf games but was still a very high 5.85.

This year has been a different story with almost every pitcher back from last season as the staff ERA has come tumbling back down to around where it was two years ago at 3.47, which ranks in the top 30 nationally.  One area that Riverside was good in last year was not walking hitters, allowing 2.7 BB's per 9 IP.  This year, the Highlander pitchers have been off the charts with their control, ranking 2nd nationally in allowing only 2.0 BB's per 9 IP.  Riverside has a deep pitching staff, with five solid SP's and several reliable RP's.

Starting Pitching

FRI SP –  JR Paul Bargas (LHP – 2-1, 4 starts, 4.32 ERA, 25 IP, 31 H, 2 BB, 17 K, .304 BA, 3 HR) has very good control with a fastball that sits in the upper 80's and also throws a slider and has the best changeup on the pitching staff.  He allowed 6 R's in 6 1/3 IP at Cal, 4 R's in 6 2/3 IP vs USF, 4 R's in 6 IP against Texas Tech and 0 R's in 6 IP against Columbia.  Bargas has a good move to 1B with two pickoffs this season although baserunners are 2-2 against him this year and were 7-11 in 2008.  He allowed 7 R's in 2 1/3 IP last season as the Sunday SP at Fullerton last year.  2008 stats – 13 starts, 2-5, 6.19 ERA, 76 IP, 94 H, 19 BB, 35 K, 10 HR, .319 BA.

SAT SP – JR Matt Montgomery (RHP – 2-1, 3.06 ERA, 4 apps, 3 starts, 18 IP, 18 H, 7 BB, 13 K, .273 BA, 0 HR) is coming back from arm surgery that forced him to take a medical redshirt in 2008.  Montgomery is an experienced pitcher, having worked his way into the rotation the last month of the 2007 season (5-1, 2.96 ERA, 46 IP, 49 H, 11 BB, 30 K).  He has a three pitch mix (fastball that sits in the 88-90 range, changeup, breaking pitch).  After pitching two scoreless innings in relief at Cal, Montgomery made his first start against USF, allowing 1 R in 5 IP and followed that start by allowing 5 R's (1 ER) in 4 IP against Oregon State and 4 R's in 6 2/3 IP against Columbia. 

SUN SP – JR Paul Applebee (LHP – 4-1, 2.57 ERA, 5 starts, 2 CG, 1 SHO, 35 IP, 23 H, 2 BB, 31 K, .181 BA, 1 HR) is a control specialist who has been the best SP for Riverside.  He has the best command on the pitching staff with a fastball that sits in the mid to upper 80's with a good curveball and changeup.  Applebee allowed 2 R's and pitched a CG at Cal, allowed 4 R's in 7 IP vs. USF, threw a CG SHO against the LH heavy lineup of Oklahoma State, allowed 3 R's in 5 IP against Columbia and 3 R's in 5 IP against UCSB.  He struggled with holding runners last season, allowing 9-12 SB's, but has been good at holding runners this year, allowing 0-1 SB's.  Applebee pitched well in relief in the 16 inning marathon last year at Fullerton, allowing 0 R's in 4 1/3 IP.  2008 stats –  3-5, 4.46 ERA, 16 apps, 9 starts, 75 IP, 94 H, 12 BB, 55 K, .315 BA, 5 HR's.

Riverside has two other solid options for their rotation.  SR Ryan Platt (RHP – 2-0, 3.05 ERA, 4 starts, 21 IP, 15 H, 9 BB, 24 K) is a hard thrower with not quite the control of the other weekend SP's and is the midweek SP.  He threw 6 shutout innings at UCLA, allowed 3 R's in 6 IP vs. USF, allowed 4 R's in 2 2/3 IP against LMU and allowed 2 R's in 7 IP last Monday at UCSB.  Platt threw 6 scoreless innings to get the win in the 12 inning Sat game at Fullerton last year.  He has not pitched in relief after pitching almost exclusively out of the bullpen in 2008 – 22 apps, 2 starts, 2-3, 6.10 ERA, 41 IP, 47 H, 21 BB, 35 K, .290 BA, 3 HR, 8 HBP.  FR Matt Andriese (RHP – 5 apps, 3 starts, 2-0, 2.70 ERA, 23 IP, 15 H, 4 BB, 14 K) has a fastball that sits around 90 with the best curveball on the pitching staff.  He started the season in the rotation, allowing 4 R's in 5 IP at Cal, 3 R's in 6 IP against USF and throwing a CG SHO against Gonzaga but has pitched out of the bullpen the last couple of weeks, throwing 3 1/3 scoreless innings against Columbia and UCSB.

Bullpen

The relief staff for Riverside is led by JR Joe Kelly (RHP, 5 apps, 1-0, 1.93 ERA, 3 saves, 9 IP, 8 H, 1 BB, 10 K, .222 BA, 2 HR) who was first team all Big West in 2007 (3-1, 1.32 ERA, 6 saves, 27 IP) before struggling with injuries last season (2008 – 2-1, 9.35 ERA, 6 saves, 17 IP).  Kelly throws hard, with a fastball that sits in the 95 to 97 range, and also throws a slider and changeup.  He is projected by Baseball America to be the first Big West player drafted in June and is rated as the #34 college prospect and #72 overall.  Kelly has allowed 3 R's (1 ER) on 4 H's in 2 1/3 IP in 2 apps against Fullerton.

The only LHP in the bullpen is FR Tommy Mackoul, who has made two appearances, allowing 5 R's on 7 H's in 2 IP.  Along with Andriese, Kelly and possibly Pratt, other relievers likely to be seen are Soph RHP Dustin Emmons (0-0, 4.38 ERA, 7 apps, 12 IP, 9 H, 5 BB, 13 K, .209 BA, 1 HR). who had a 6.35 ERA in 17 IP last season; Soph RHP Matt Larkins (1-0, 3.52 ERA, 3 apps, 8 IP, 7 H, 6 BB, 11 K), who was a SP most of last season (2008 – 6-5, 6.79 ERA, 62 IP, 100 H, 15 BB, 34 K) and started the Sat game at Fullerton (6 IP, 13 H, 4 R, 0 BB, 2 K); Soph RHP Kolby Moore (0-0, 2.08 ERA, 3 apps, 4 1/3 IP, 3 H, 0 BB, 5 K, .188 BA, 0 HR), who allowed 11 R's in 10 IP in 2008; JR RHP Kevin Dickey (1-1, 6.75 ERA, 6 apps, 1 save, 5 1/3 IP, 13 H, 0 BB, 7 K, .464 BA, 1 HR), who threw 1 2/3 innings in 2008; Soph RHP Mike Wolford (0-0, 3.00 ERA, 3 apps, 3 IP, 4 H, 0 BB, 2 K, .308 BA, 0 HR), who threw 10 innings in 2008 with a 6.52 ERA.