COLUMBUS, Ohio – The 2010 Ohio State pitching staff has a legit Friday night ace, an 18-win junior, another junior who won 12 games in relief last year and a senior southpaw whose 66 appearances tops the staff. And still, there are questions for the coaches that won’t get answered until the team starts playing real games on a real field in 11 days.
Based on his All-America sophomore season and the preseason All-America hype he has received, junior Alex Wimmers will be one of the top pitchers in collegiate baseball in 2010. He throws strikes, he has the first nine-inning no-hitter in Ohio State history in his back pocket and he struck out more batters last season – 136 – then all but one pitcher in 126 years of Ohio State baseball. He also went 9-2 with a 3.27 ERA in 2009, his first season as a starter. Baseball America tagged him as the third-best player in the Cape Cod League this summer. Bottom line: even with all he has achieved, Coach Bob Todd says Wimmers will need to be sharp from the start because opponents will be jacked to play against the All-American.
Another Big “W” in the Ohio State starting rotation is junior Dean Wolosiansky. A freshman All-American in 2008 after going 7-4, Wolosiansky came back to record an 11-2 season in 2009. While his ERA was only fifth-best on the team, Wolosiansky proved capable at getting himself out of jams. He has been extremely effective in Big Ten games with a 7-0 record last year and a 12-2 career mark.
Junior reliever Drew Rucinski set a school-record with 12 wins in relief last year. He is coming off a solid summer as a starter for Luray in the Valley Baseball League, and was named the league’s third-best player by Baseball America. Will Rucinski start for the Buckeyes in 2010? Will he stay in his middle inning role that earned him all his wins last year? Or will he be the one to replace record-setting reliever Jake Hale as the team’s stopper? Only time will tell.
Eric Best is the workhorse of this staff, with his 66 appearances divided between 17 starts and 49 relief stints. Two years ago he led the team with eight saves, including seven in Big Ten games. Last year he assumed a starting role and was a weekend starter who went 7-4 on the year. His promising 2009 summer – 3-0 in the Great Lakes League – ended early with arm surgery. Best continues his rehabilitation as the 2010 practices start.
A couple of fourth-year juniors – LHP Theron Minium and RHP Jared Strayer – have plenty of collegiate experience behind them, and effective work on the mound from them this year could be huge for the Buckeyes. Minium has pitched in 52.0 innings in 24 games. Strayer has 39.2 innings in 25 games.
Two young right-handers will be vying to become regular starters in the rotation. They’ll have to earn the role, though, based on their deeds. Ross Oltorik is a hard-throwing sophomore who made 11 appearances last year. He has given up football, so the added time with the baseball should benefit him. He says he feels great. Brett McKinney is a true freshman who displayed no fear during fall camp and ended up pitching 6.0 innings twice in two Scarlet and Gray World Series wins.
A handful of pitchers will be seeking to help the staff whenever and wherever. They include fourth-year junior Eric Shinn, true freshman recruit Cole Brown and three walk-ons who made the team through fall camp work: Brian Bobinski, Paul Geuy and Drew Malley.
Southpaw junior Andrew Armstrong had shoulder surgery this past summer and his availability for the 2010 season will be determined as the season progresses.