While the Iowa Baseball squad gets ready to begin its 2018 campaign in Kissimmee, FL, we here at Black Heart Gold Pants are also getting gearing up for the start of college baseball. Let’s take a look at who’s going to be on the mound.
It’s not a secret Iowa’s losing a lot from last years pitching staff. Nick Gallagher. Ryan Erickson. Josh Martsching. C.J. Eldred (even though, yes, he played just one game last year).
That group (with the exception of Eldred, who certainly would have been) was part of the backbone that got Iowa back to the NCAA tournament last year. Replacing a group of that caliber won’t be easy. It never is.
With that in mind, there’s still a lot to like about the 2018 Hawkeyes. We’ll start here with the obvious, because we actually already know who’s going to start this weekend. It’s subject to change, of course, but the likelihood of that isn’t all that high, barring injury.
Let’s dive in.
The weekend starters
#24 Nick Allgeyer (RS JR)
2017: Missed season because of Tommy John surgery.
World University Games: 0-0 (1.93 ERA in two appearances), pitched 4.2 innings total.
Iowa certainly could have used Allgeyer last season. Surgery, however, robbed what could have been a great campaign and turned it into a number of long, grueling rehab sessions. Perhaps because of this, he’s been named a captain this season for Iowa.
But with that behind him, the lefty is back. One of Iowa’s best out of the bullpen in 2016 (3.44 ERA in 22 appearances, 36.2 innings, 32 strikeouts, 11 BB) he’s set for a much, much larger role this season.
Health and missing a year will probably take some sort of toll, but the first couple weeks of the season should be enough to knock off the rust.
#11 Cole McDonald (JR)
2017: 2-4 (6.96 ERA), 11 starts, 42.2 innings, 39 SO, .319 opp. BA, 22 BB.
WUG: 1-0 (0.00 ERA in one start, one relief appearance)
Against the Czech Republic on August 25th, McDonald did something no other Iowa baseball player has done since 1965 — he threw a no-hitter. He needed just 97 pitches to complete the game, which the United States of America Hawkeyes won 8-0.
If this is any indication of what’s to come this season, it would be very, very welcome. Solid as Iowa’s midweek starter in 2016 (4-1, 3.33 ERA in 24.1 innings, 29 SO) he certainly slipped quite a bit last season.
Let’s hope it was just a true sophomore slump.
#27 Brady Schanuel (JR)
2017 (at Parkland College): 10-1 (2.13 ERA), 130 SO in 80.1 innings.
WUG: 0-0 (2.16 ERA in two starts), pitched 8.1 innings and allowed five hits, also had 10 strikeouts — eight of those game in one game against Mexico.
Despite some “rotator cuff weakness” that caused him to be shut down for 10 days earlier this year, it looks like Schanuel will suit up for the Black and Gold on Sunday. That’s a good thing, because the two-time NJCAA All-American will be a critical part of the Hawkeyes rotation this year.
In two seasons at Parkland he went 20-4 and now holds the school record in single-season strikeouts (131) and career strikeouts (261). That’s... pretty good. It sounds like he’ll be pretty limited against Old Dominion on Sunday, but that’s alright — easing him into the season is a great way to spend the early bit of the season.
If nothing else, it’ll allow us to see a bit more of the bullpen early on in the season.
The midweek guys
This is where things start getting a little interesting. Iowa doesn’t have a midweek game until it faces Cornell College on Feb. 27 in a game that probably has a 50% chance of getting canceled due to weather.
After that, the first chance to see who Rick Heller pulls out for a midweek game isn’t until March 6 against Maryville. Outside of the guys above, there isn’t a whole lot of starter experience on the roster, though that might be alright.
Jack Dreyer, a freshman from Johnston, was ranked the 366th best prospect in the nation by Perfect Game (No. 4 in Iowa) and could have an immediate impact. His dad is Steve Dreyer, who spent two years in the majors with the Rangers.
Grant Judkins, who started five games on the mound last season, is the only other pitcher on Iowa’s roster with starting experience outside of Shane Ritter. Ritter (2-2, 5.33 ERA, 22 app., 27 IP) started just one game last season and will likely spend his time in the bullpen this year, but stranger things have happened.
Speaking of which...
The Bullpen Mainstays
#45 Kyle Shimp
2017: 5-1 (3.18 ERA, 18 app.), 28.1 IP, 26 SO, 23 BB, .186 opp. BA.
A Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-American, Shimp enjoyed a tremendous first season at Iowa. It ended with the big lefty allowing just one run on one hit over 3.2 innings at the NCAA Regional.
He threw a bit in the WUG, going 2.3 innings total.
#12 Nick Nelsen (SR)
2017: 0-3 (6.35 ERA, 26 app.), 28.1 IP, 20 SO, 10 BB, .316 opp. BA.
Nick Nelsen figures to be a big part of Iowa’s bullpen plans in 2018. While he didn’t have a great season in 2017, it’s obvious that he earned the trust of Rick Heller - the righty’s 26 relief appearances was second on the team. The ERA and opp. BA will need to come waayyyy down this year, but with Nelsen’s deceptive delivery will make him important, particularly against righties.
#2 Zach Daniels (JR)
2017: 7-3 (3.22 ERA, 24 app.), 50.1 IP, 55 SO, .293 opp. BA.
Named to the preseason Big Ten honors list, expectations are high for Daniels. Tied for seventh in the Big Ten last year with seven wins, Iowa will likely once again be relying on him heavily. He figures to be the closer for this squad, but Heller hasn’t been shy about using him for multiple innings throughout his career (68.1 innings in 40 appearances).
Outside of these four, there will certainly be other pitchers to appear over the coming weeks. This weekend will tell us a whole bunch about what Heller wants to do and I’m excited about it.