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Virginia Baseball 2020 Preview: The Staff

Could this year see UVa’s staff return to form?

Virginia Media Relations

The last few years have been out of character for the Virginia baseball team in more ways than one. Obviously they have missed the NCAA Tournament the last two years, but what they were able to count on previously in the pitching staff being dominant fell off as well.

Last year’s staff surrendered 273 walks and a .259 opponents average. Couple that with a 4.68 era and surrendering 40 home runs and the staff did not hold up its end of the bargain.

The biggest change in the O’Connor era took place over the summer though when Coach Karl Kuhn took the Radford head coaching job and Drew Dickinson took over after eight years at his alma mater in Illinois.

The rotation has a few question marks but looks like it will likely be anchored by junior Griff McGarry. McGarry had a 3-5 record and 4.56 era in 13 appearances last year. The biggest factor to McGarry’s success will be limiting the walks. He issued 54 walks in just 53.1 innings in 2019.

The other pitcher who UVa will look to take a big step forward in 2020 will be sophomore Mike Vasil. Vasil was a heralded recruit coming into UVa and many thought he could have been a top round pick had he stayed in the draft. Throwing strikes wasn’t a struggle for Vasil as he only issued 22 walks in 57 innings, but was unable to fool batters in his initial year at the college level. Batters batted .294 off him as a freshmen which directly lead to a 5.93 ERA and 2-6 record. Vasil has the talent to take a major step forward in his second year as the game slows down.

Though much will be expected of Vasil and McGarry, the biggest wild card on the staff is likely freshman Nate Savino. Savino was not expected to graduate from high school until this June, but graduated early to enroll at UVa. D1baseball has dubbed him as possibly the most talented freshman in all of college baseball and he had a legitimate shot to go in the first round of this year’s draft had he stayed in high school. It’s unclear what his role will be given his youth but if his talent lives up to the hype, he could be starring in the weekend rotation before ACC play begins.

While the rotation has experience, but is hoping on more improvements, the bullpen could be one of the best in the ACC or country. Juniors Andrew Abbott, Kyle Whitten, and Devin Ortiz will be the mainstays with Abbott likely being anointed the closer after having an impressive summer with Team USA in 2019 even though Whitten had nine saves last year compared to Abbott’s three. Rounding out the bullpen will likely be Senior Paul Kosanovich, whose four wins tied for second most on the team, Sophomore Christian Sanchez, who redshirted last year after an injury, and Sophomore Zach Messinger, who turned in a 4.03 ERA in 16 appearances last season.

Dickinson has the talent at his disposal to turn back the clock on UVa’s staff and return it to the strike throwing team it has been in years past which would be a welcome return and signal that the Cavaliers are back after a brief hiatus.