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Yesterday we looked at the Wingnuts’ offense. While the star power isn’t there as much as it was last season, I think it will end up being just as effective or nearly effective.
I’m not sure you can say the same thing about the pitching. I’m not saying you can’t say the same thing about the pitching, I’m saying I’m not sure. On paper, at least, it doesn’t look quite as strong. But here’s the thing — Kevin Hooper is the manager. That should tell you two things — 1) I’m a total suck-up; 2) the pitching will probably be pretty good because Hooper put the staff together. The Wingnuts will, however, have to pick up the slack for losing probably their two best starters — Derek Blacksher and Will Savage. Blacksher moved on to the Atlantic League and Savage is pitching in High-A in the Dodgers’ organization.
The biggest acquisition for the staff was plucking Nick Singleton from Sioux City. Singleton will be the starter on Opening Day, and he’s looking for a rebound from a somewhat disappointing 2009 season. His ERA jumped nearly two points with a 4.04 mark, and he walked 59, giving him a walk rate of 4.1 per nine innings. That’s not very good, but it was the highest of his career so one could expect him to return to form this season.
Following Singleton in the rotation will be two holdovers from the 2009 team, Adam Cowart and Gabe Medina. Cowart is very reliable as a groundball pitcher who will keep hitters off balance and induce weak contact. Medina is more of a power pitcher, but with velocity in the high 80s, he also needs help from his secondary pitches. Not being the ace, as he was last year, could take pressure off Medina and perhaps allow him to pitch better in 2010. He had plenty of good moments last season but was quite inconsistent.
The rotation should be rounded out by Luke Massetti, who was 7-3 but with a 5.03 ERA for Shreveport a year ago. Doug Hurn, a holdover who pitched out of the bullpen in 2009, is a rotation option for the No. 5 spot. So is Brandon Mathes, a former Kansas Wesleyan right-hander who pitched for Joliet last season. Well, he pitched one game.
The rotation will be full of new faces, except for Justin Dowdy, whom the Wingnuts acquired in a late-season trade. He’ll keep his job as closer, and with a full season in Wichita’s bullpen I believe he’ll thrive if he can limit walks.
Here are some other bullpen names to know:
Cephas Howard Luke Demko Dustin Pease Matt Petty Cole Akins Brock Piper Will Morgan
All of those guys appear to have pretty solid track records. I look forward to seeing how the staff comes together. Aside from Dowdy, nobody has a set role in the bullpen. And while Singleton appears to be the ace to start the season, there will be competition among the starters, too.