Season Preview: Starting Pitchers

Maryland baseball is back in just five days, and MBN is breaking down the Terps’ roster position-by-position. First up: Maryland’s starting rotation. 

The 2017 season was a big one for Terps’ starters, especially their Friday night ace, Brian Shaffer, who cracked the top five in Maryland’s all-time innings pitched and wins marks, and, before postseason struggles, flirted with single-season program records. 

With Shaffer in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ system after he was drafted in the sixth-round, Maryland will look toward some of its other success stories — namely Tyler Blohm and Taylor Bloom — to pick up the slack.

It will be even more important that Blohm and Bloom continue their success, because first-year head coach Rob Vaughn has an important decision to make regarding midweek starters.

Friday – RHP Taylor Bloom

After a breakout sophomore season in 2016, during which the Severna Park, Maryland, native was fourth in the Big Ten in ERA, Taylor Bloom took a slight step back in 2017. Now a senior, he will look to regain his form for his final season, and for the first time, he will take the hill on Friday.

Senior right-hander Taylor Bloom will take over the Friday night spot in Maryland’s rotation this season. Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network

Bloom has earned the spot. Last year, he posted a 3.83 ERA and had some memorable starts. In an elimination game of the NCAA tournament, he allowed two runs in eight innings against UMBC; he also had a seven inning, four-hit win against Bryant and struck out seven batters against Indiana.

The problem for Bloom is that far too often, he failed to go deep into the game and forced then-head coach John Szefc to go to his bullpen early. He totalled just five innings in his first two starts of 2017, and then had starts of 1.1 innings (Nebraska) and four innings (Rutgers).

Nevertheless, Bloom has proven to be a key factor in Maryland’s rotation. He’s relied on control to find success, walking just 1.84 hitters per nine innings in his three years in College Park, and for his career, the 6-foot right-hander is 15-10 with a 3.24 ERA in 224.2 innings.

Saturday – LHP Tyler Blohm

After a terrific high school career at nearby Archbishop Spalding, Tyler Blohm was drafted by his hometown Baltimore Orioles in the 2017 MLB Draft. The 6-foot-3 lefty turned down the offer to play pro ball, instead electing to head to Maryland, where he had a fantastic freshman year for the Terps. He won a team-high eight games, and ranked second behind Shaffer with a 3.48 ERA.

After a strong freshman campaign, LHP Tyler Blohm will be the Terps’ Saturday starter. Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network 4/23/2017

Blohm earned Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors and was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week in back-to-back weeks after he allowed five hits in 13 shutout innings against Princeton and Bryant. Collegiate Baseball Newspaper named Blohm a Freshman All-American, and Baseball America named him a second-team Freshman All-American. 

Like Bloom, Blohm did struggle to pitch deep into games, however, tossing just 75 innings over 16 starts. The now-sophomore southpaw will seek to improve in 2018 is his control, as last season, he walked a team-high 35 batters and threw six wild pitches, leading to a high-pitch count and early exits. 

When Blohm is on, he is electric, as seen in one of the signature moments of his freshman season. In the Big Ten Tournament, he struck out 10 Nebraska batters in 4.1 innings, leading the Terps to an elimination game victory which was crucial in strengthening their NCAA Tournament resume. 

Sunday – RHP Hunter Parsons

Last season, Szefc had to reach deep into his bag of tricks to find a midweek starter. Although six different pitchers started a midweek game (excluding the usual weekend starters), Hunter Parsons started the most often.

Hunter Parsons will man the Sunday spot in the rotation this season. Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network 3/7/2017

In his four starts last season, Parsons had some major struggles. He failed to reach the third inning in any of his starts, allowing 20 runs (17 earned) in just six innings. However, the right-hander has had success in the past, as he enjoyed a breakout freshman season in 2016. Two seasons ago, Parsons made 15 appearances, including five starts, striking out 28 hitters in 36 innings while pitching to a 3.50 ERA and holding opponents to a .201 average.

Sunday’s starting spot is a huge wild card for this Terps team, and its success could be dependent on the performance of Maryland’s veteran pitcher.

Midweek – RHP Mark DiLuia

Terps freshman Mark DiLuia, pictured here in high school, was ranked as one of the top prep pitchers in Illinois. He was drafted by the Texas Rangers in June, but declined, opting to come to Maryland. Photo courtesy of Mark DiLuia.

Entering the season, freshman right-hander Mark DiLuia has earned his spot as Maryland’s midweek starter. There will be some competition if DiLuia gets off to a slow start, but it seems as if Vaughn is looking forward to seeing the 6-foot-3 Illinois native take the mound.

DiLuia is expected to touch the low-90s on the radar gun (as MBN’s Dylan Sinn noted in his story about DiLuia, “More mass equals more gas”). The 11th-ranked prospect in Illinois’ Class of 2017 enters the 2018 season with the opportunity to secure midweek victories. His first career start could come on Feb. 21, when the Terps travel to William & Mary.