2013 Season Outlook: Starting Pitchers
Feb. 4, 2013
LAWRENCE, Kan. – With the start of the 2013 baseball season less than two weeks away, KUAthletics.com is previewing the Jayhawks position-by-position. The first edition analyzes one of KU’s strengths going into the season – its starting pitching.
Kansas returns one of its strongest groups of starting pitchers in recent years, which is a big reason why head coach Ritch Price is optimistic about the 2013 season. For the first time in his tenure, all three weekend starting pitchers from the previous season return to the team, which should give the Jayhawks an edge on the mound.
The KU trio of senior Thomas Taylor, junior Frank Duncan and sophomore Wes Benjamin started 45 of KU’s 58 games last season. The group combined for a 3.81 ERA and 16 wins last season as well as 222 strikeouts in 295 innings.
Duncan is the ace of the staff after earning All-Big 12 Second Team honors a year ago. In his first season as a starting pitcher, he became just the fifth Jayhawk to record 100-plus strikeouts in a season. He also led the team with six victories, which included a complete game shutout of Missouri in his final start of the regular season.
Benjamin was the team’s Saturday starter last year and posted a 3.54 ERA to earn a spot on the Freshman All-Big 12 squad. He is the lone southpaw in the starting rotation and is one of the best in the conference at fielding his position. Like many of KU’s freshmen from a year ago, he ended the season on the rise, going 3-1 with a 1.61 ERA in four starts during the month of May.
Taylor will likely hold down the back end of the weekend rotation, which was his role last year. The senior righty had an up-and-down season, but ended it with a bang by tossing a complete game in a victory over then-No. 6 Texas A&M at the Big 12 Baseball Championship, which eliminated the Aggies.
Senior Tanner Poppe moves back into a starting role after a year in the bullpen. Price is hoping that Poppe can return to his 2011 form, when he posted a 3.66 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 71 1/3 innings as a starting pitcher.
Sophomore Drew Morovick went 3-1 as a midweek starter last season and will likely serve in the same capacity. He will look to be more consistent from start-to-start after the typical highs and lows of a freshman campaign.
Freshman Hayden Edwards will also likely receive spot starts and also pitch out of the bullpen as a long reliever as he looks to gain experience at the collegiate level. Edwards was ranked as the No. 1 high school prospect in the state of Kansas by Perfect Game USA last year and was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 31st round of the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft.
Head Coach Ritch Price
On returning so many experienced starting pitchers:
On junior Frank Duncan:
On sophomore Wes Benjamin:
On senior Thomas Taylor:
On Tanner Poppe returning to his role as a starting pitcher:
On sophomore Drew Morovick:
On freshman Hayden Edwards:
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