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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Andy Lopez names starting pitchers for Arizona baseball’s season opening series

Andy+Lopez+names+starting+pitchers+for+Arizona+baseballs+season+opening+series
Carlos Herrera

Arizona baseball head coach Andy Lopez revealed the starting pitchers for the Wildcats’ first weekend of competition three days before the home opener, and it wasn’t what everyone was expecting.

No player was more surprised than Austin Schnabel, who saw his name in the Friday night slot at the clubhouse Tuesday afternoon. In addition to Schnabel, TCU transfer Robby Medel was slated for Saturday and returning Tyger Talley was slated for Sunday.

Talley, the only veteran starter of the three right-handers, recorded a 3.66 ERA in 71.1 innings last season.

“Last year, I just wasn’t going to give up,” Talley said. “I didn’t want to lay down, and I wanted to go out there and do my job. I ended up having a little bit of success, and I’m hoping to carry that into this year.”

The Chaparral High School graduate spent the summer with Arizona pitchers Nathan Bannister and Bobby Dalbec, where his off-speed pitches were a topic of focus.

“I have been working on my change-up,” Talley said. “It’s been a work in progress, but I’ve been getting it to where I want it to be in the game.”

Lopez said Talley has made significant strides over the offseason, from demeanor to athletic performance on the mound. His growth in consistency and maturity has empowered him to reclaim the Sunday spot.

“Sometimes, the game got really big for him [last year], and he would go for four to five innings,” Lopez said. “But then you’d have that magical sixth inning, and before you know it, there’s four runs on the board. He’s too good for that.”

One name that wasn’t listed in the weekend lineup was last season’s Saturday night starter, Cody Hamlin. He’s on the board for a Tuesday night start against North Dakota State, with Nathan Bannister finishing the two-game series on Wednesday.

Lopez said the only reason Hamlin isn’t on the mound for the weekend series, even after a great performance in Saturday’s “meet the team” intersquad scrimmage, is because his teammates didn’t slip up.

“Everything is up for grabs, and we are evaluating from the shoulders down,” Lopez said. “Austin has done a very good job, and Robby and Tyger have been consistent.”

Schnabel is a prime example of Lopez’ methodology. His name was rarely etched into the scorebooks last year. He was 0-4 in game appearances with a 9.18 ERA.

“The edge is here; it’s, ‘Hey, you pitch well tonight, you’re in the mix next weekend,’ and I think our program needs that,” Lopez said.

Other names on the radar for Arizona’s pitching staff include Xavier Borde and Mathew Troupe.

Troupe missed a majority of last season after having Tommy John surgery. He is expected to get play time as a setup man early this season and has the possibility of starting later in the year.

Dalbec, Arizona’s starting third baseman who played at first and pitched last season, will likely be the go-to closer for the Wildcats. He said the biggest difference about his game will be how the change of defensive position will affect his performance on the mound.

“The throw is a big part of playing third,” Dalbec said. “Having to manage closing on top of making all those big throws is a big transition.”

Lopez said that although the battle on the mound has been determined, defensive and offensive spots are still up for grabs, including catcher, first base, right and left field, and the first five slots of the batting lineup.

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Follow Nicole Cousins on Twitter.

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