Ahead of the Fort Worth Regional that begins on Friday, we here at Devils in Detail wanted to get each writer’s varying opinions on some pretty important ASU Baseball questions.
1. After Seth Martinez, who can ASU look to get a quality start?
Zach: Aside from Martinez, all eyes should be on senior Jordan Aboites. He has continued to improve all season and has solidified himself as the No. 2 starter for ASU. If Aboites can find his spots and not force the bullpen to do too much then him and Martinez can make a great 1-2 punch this postseason.
Sam: I would have to agree with Zach and go with Aboites. He’s been the most consistent pitcher behind Martinez. The key for Aboites is to limit the amount of walks given up. While opposing batters are hitting .286 off of Aboites, he has walked 20 batters to go along with just 33 strikeouts. If Aboites can keep his pitch count low, it will allow manager Tracy Smith to preserve his bullpen for future games.
Hunter: I think that you can look at Eder Erives to get you a quality start. Even though he only has two starts on the year, he has been a good option for the Sun Devils this season. He has the second lowest ERA behind Martinez at 2.73 and he also has the second most innings of work behind Martinez with 69.1. If Erives can translate his quality relief pitching to a starting role then he would be a nice second game starter after Martinez.
2. The one player that can make or break ASU’s season is…
Zach: This is tough because when the Sun Devils play well their success is generated by a strong team effort. However, infielder David Greer has been on an absolute tear for ASU down the stretch. He has had great consistency whether it’s a timely base hit or his power hitting being displayed. Greer will be a key cog for the Sun Devils and will need to produce as long as ASU continues to play.
Sam: Outfielder Gage Canning will have to play big in the tournament. Batting as ASU’s leadoff hitter, he has struggled to get on base down the stretch. He sets the tone for the rest of lineup, and his speed on the base paths can put the hitters behind him in prime position to make an impact. He leads the team in stolen bases, and with ASU expected to be in tight games, he can play a big part in manufacturing runs.
Hunter: The player that will ultimately make or break ASU’s season is Seth Martinez. When Seth Martinez is pitching well, the whole team responds by complimenting his performance with runs. Martinez has become the face of this season and ASU’s season will all be determined by whether he can continue his regular season success or if he will crack under the pressure.
3. ASU’s biggest problem area is where?
Zach: Starting pitching has been a concern for much of the season. Behind Martinez and sometimes Aboites, the Sun Devils lack another quality pitcher. Zach Dixon has had his bright moments and Hever Bueno’s Opening Day injury stalled what looked like a bright season. The rotation needs to come together more than ever if ASU wants a shot at advancing.
Sam: I believe pitching is ASU’s biggest concern. It’s easy to say that after giving up 31 runs Sunday, but the pitching behind Martinez has struggled to keep opponents off the scoreboard. If they can hold the opposition to little to no runs, it will allow the offense to give them run support and take off the pressure of the pitching staff.
Hunter: I would have to agree with you two, pitching is ASU’s biggest concern. The Sun Devils have to find a way to limit the amount of runs given up by pitchers not named Martinez or Erives. One possible solution would be to have a rotation of pitchers so that no one pitcher is in the game too long. Keeping the starter on a three inning leash and then moving on to the next pitcher would make the opposing lineup very uneasy as they would never figure a pitcher out. A little unconventional, but it might just be crazy enough to work.
Zach: I may have been generous with softball but I do believe this a dangerous team. Don’t let a 31-9 loss to USC fool you because ASU is in a favorable region by playing close to home and avoiding a national seed. With quality starts and consistency from the bats, the Sun Devils should be able to beat TCU and advance to the Super Regionals before losing to Texas A&M.
Sam: I think ASU can surprise in this regional. ASU was fortunate to be selected to the Fort Worth, Texas regional, considering most of the regionals are on the east coast. Also helped that ASU didn’t get selected to face a national seed in the regional. If Sun Devils can get timely hitting and solid pitching, they are in good shape to get by TCU and advance to the super regional. I think Sun Devils will get by TCU and reach the super regional before falling to Texas A&M.
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Hunter: I have high hopes for this team. I think they will face an underrated Gonzaga team but will come out on top thanks to the pitching of Martinez. They then will make their way to the championship game, beating their opponent and making it to the Super Regional. Like the two predictions up above, I also have them going up against Texas A&M in the Super Regional. Unlike the two prediction up above, I have them shocking A&M and making it into the College World Series where they will be the first team out of their bracket. This season will end as a success for ASU Baseball.
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