Maryland Baseball Preview – The Rotation

Weekend Starters: RHP Mike Shawaryn (So.), LHP Tayler Stiles (So.), LHP Jake Drossner (Jr.)

Midweek Options: LHP Zach Morris (R-Jr.), RHP Brian Shaffer (Fr.), LHP Willie Rios (Fr.), RHP Bobby Ruse (Sr.)

Sophomore Mike Shawaryn returns to anchor the 2015 staff after breaking the school record in wins in his freshman campaign. Finishing with an ERA of 3.12, Shawaryn’s most impressive number is six – which represents the number of ranked opponents the New Jersey native beat in his true freshman year.

It’s not often a sophomore is the leader of a staff, but Shawaryn’s work ethic and moxy in big moments has set the precedent on a talented staff.

Powerful lefty Jake Drossner struggled with control during his freshman year after being drafted by the Cubs out of high school, but rebounded nicely in 2014. After pitching his way into the weekend rotation in the middle of the season, Drossner proved tough to beat, losing only one game in 12 starts. He started the ACC Championship Game and the clincher of the Columbia Regional, keeping the Terps in both ball games.

11Morris
Junior Zach Morris (Photo: Alexander Jonesi)

Drossner has shown the ability to dominate at times, and if he can keep his command right, could be part of a lethal 1-2 punch for the Terrapins.

Sophomore southpaw Tayler Stiles appears to have won a very crowded competition for the weekend rotation spots. Stiles pitched primarily out of the pen in 2014, but averaged more than two innings per appearance. Walking only 14 batters in 46 and two-thirds innings, it appears the coaching staff is impressed by his ability to throw strikes.

A local product from nearby Bowie, Stiles has showed positive signs against the country’s top competition. He pitched four a third scoreless innings to beat North Carolina in the regular season, and tossed three scoreless innings of relief en route to two wins at the Columbia Regional.

The losers of the weekend starter battle still have an important consolation prize to shoot for – a potential midweek starter role. At least four guys appear to be in the mix, and several pitchers could eventually get the opportunity.

The Terps will need a fourth starter in the season-opening tournament at Coastal Carolina, but won’t need to reveal a fifth starter until March 18 at Elon. The way the schedule is aligned, that March 18 game might be the only time the Terps need a fifth starter (barring rainouts and a deep postseason run).

Bobby Ruse will get the first look as the fourth starter when the Terps play Coastal Carolina on February 15. Ruse excelled in that role last year as well, however he excelled in every role, and could eventually prove more valuable in the bullpen.

13Shaffer
Freshman Brian Shaffer (Photo: Alexander Jonesi)

Fourth-year lefty Zach Morris also seems like a logical choice for a midweek job, having posted a 2.77 ERA in that role last year.

Morris’ competition is coming from a talented and deep freshman class. Left-hander Willie Rios was drafted by the Diamondbacks last year and received high marks from scouting services as both a top-notch college recruit and Major League prospect. However, Maryland native Brian Shaffer could be even more impressive, pumping strikes with a 6-foot-4 inch frame and could get a look in a starting role as well. Taylor Bloom has also caught the eyes of the coaches and could become a starter in the long-term.

A bevy of other freshman are vying for roles on the team and almost all of them have had starting experience in high school. That list includes Andrew Green, Ryan Selmer, Chase Brewis, Jack Piekos and Tyler Brandon.

While Morris and Shaffer appear most likely to claim the midweek roles, anyone else from the freshman pack could feasibly climb the depth chart if the rest struggle.

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