Maryland baseball season is just one week away. Over the last two weeks, The Maryland Baseball Network has reviewed the best moments of head coach Rob Vaughn’s first year at the helm, highlighted the best offseason performers and broken down several notable things revealed at spring sports media day.
Now, with just six days left until the Terps take on Campbell in the season-opener, it’s time to shift our efforts to what’s to come in the next few months. We’ve previewed the starting pitchers, and today, we continue with a breakdown of Maryland baseball’s 2019 relief pitchers.
Senior RHP John Murphy
For the second straight season, John Murphy will start the season as Maryland’s closer. Murphy picked up four saves last year while posting a 4.26 ERA over 25 innings of work, struggling a bit with his command. It was a bit of a disappointing season for the righty, who posted a 1.71 ERA in 2017, but he still struck out 37 batters last season.
Unfortunately, after being ejected from the final game of the 2018 season against Indiana, Murphy will be ineligible to pitch in Maryland’s first two games against Campbell and Coastal Carolina. But after that, look for Murphy to handle the 9th inning for the Terps.
Junior RHP Nick Turnbull
Nick Turnbull has been maybe the most impressive addition to the Terps bullpen this season. The tall right-hander joined Maryland as a transfer from Harford Community College, and has shown off a good fastball and breaking ball. Rob Vaughn and Corey Muscara could go to Turnbull if they need to close out one of the first two games in 2019.
Junior RHP Elliot Zoellner
Elliot Zoellner started the 2018 season as a possible starter, but after some rough appearances, the righty settled into the Terps bullpen. Zoellner finished the season with an 11.57 ERA in 16 innings of work, but he was much better in his final few appearances of the campaign after getting fully comfortable with his new sidearm delivery. He then went on to post a 0.64 ERA with 15 strikeouts in 14 innings this summer with the Bethesda Big Train in the Ripken League, and looks poised for a breakout season.
Sophomore LHP Sean Fisher
Sean Fisher was used heavily in his first season in College Park, working 30 innings and posting a 6.53 ERA with 22 strikeouts last season. The lefty has a lot of movement on his fastball, which is the pitch he throws most of the time. Look for Fisher to again be an option in the late innings for the Terps, especially if he continues to develop his off-speed pitches.
Sophomore LHP Grant Burleson
Grant Burleson was another freshman who was used a good amount last year, posting a 6.65 ERA with 16 strikeouts and one save over 21 2/3 innings. He struggled with his command last season, walking 19 batters, but he showed a very good breaking ball that makes him tough against both righties and lefties.
Sophomore RHP Mike Vasturia
Mike Vasturia is a tall right-hander at 6-foot-5, but he doesn’t throw very hard. Instead, he relies on a big curveball that can get hitters off balance. Vasturia pitched to a 6.41 ERA in 19 2/3 innings last season, but he could see even more innings this season if that curveball is working.
Sophomore LHP Billy Phillips
Billy Phillips continued to get better and stronger as 2018 went along, and he even earned a midweek start by the tail end of the season, and finished with an 8.55 ERA in 20 innings. The lefty should be in a middle relief or long relief role this season after showing more progress over the summer in the Ripken League. Phillips struck out 15 batters and walked just two over 15 innings with the Baltimore Redbirds this summer.
Junior LHP Tuck Tucker
Tuck Tucker is another junior college transfer who should see some innings out of the bullpen this season. He pitched at New Mexico Junior College and struck out 49 batters in under 40 innings of work. He has good stuff, which is why Texas Tech recruited him hard in high school, and he could be an important lefty for the Terps in 2019.
There are four freshman pitchers who should start the season in the Maryland bullpen, and could make an impact similar to that of Fisher and Burleson from last season.
Sean Heine, a 6-foot-4 righty from New Jersey, has a good breaking ball and fastball, and is one of the most exciting freshman in the class. He should make an impact on the mound this season. Andrew Vail, a 6-foot-1 lefty, also has some zip on his fastball, and comes from Gloucester Catholic, where the Terps have found some successful players in the past.
Will Glock is a 5-foot-11 right-hander who has good slider and showed it during the Fall World Series when he recorded the final out of the week. Sean Burke, a 6-foot-6 righty, can give hitters trouble using his good stuff and size.