With less than a week until Maryland’s first game of the 2020 season, players’ roles for the season are starting to materialize and head coach Rob Vaughn finalizes his roster and takes inventory of the Terps’ squad.
We’ve already given you the starting pitchers preview; now, we head out to the bullpen with an overview of Maryland’s relievers.
Senior RHP Elliot Zoellner
Consistently one of the Terps’ stronger relievers, this season is about determining where Zoellner best fits out of the bullpen. Last season the right-hander often made late-inning appearances ahead of then-closer John Murphy. With Murphy gone this season, Zoellner has a chance to step into that closer position.
Zoellner made 18 appearances out of the bullpen in 2019 for a 7.40 ERA over 20 2/3 innings, plus 31 strikeouts. The right-hander also held opponents to a .156 batting average when he took the mound. For Zoellner to succeed this season he must stay healthy; a bought with pneumonia and a hurt thumb sidelined the righty for part of last season.
Junior RHP Mark DiLuia
As a freshman it seemed DiLuia had a shot at being a starter, but in 2019 he became one of the Terps’ most-consistent bullpen arms. DiLuia made 24 relief appearances and one start last season, tossing a 5.45 ERA in 38 innings with 38 strikeouts. This came
After getting surgery this fall to remove some bone spurs in his elbow, DiLuia is one of the relievers Vaughn has been most excited to see throwing heading into the regular season. According to Vaughn, when the game matters DiLuia is someone whose hands Vaughn wants the ball in.
Junior LHP Sean Fisher
While Vaughn is eyeing Fisher for a starting role this season, Fisher’s experience out of the bullpen could prove vital as the season progresses and pitchers’ roles become cemented. Last season Fisher tossed a 6.90 ERA in 25 relief appearances, including 20 strikeouts over 30 innings.
Fisher enters the 2020 season coming off a hot summer in Cape Cod, where he tossed a 2.84 ERA over 25 1/3 innings for the Brewster Whitecaps.
Redshirt-Junior RHP Mike Vasturia
Heading into his third season on the mound for the Terps, Vaughn is likely to deploy Vasturia in a middle-inning relief situation, though anything is possible.
Last season Vasturia made eight relief appearances for Maryland, compiling six strikeouts in six innings pitched.
Redshirt-Junior LHP Billy Phillips
This year, in his third season on the mound for the Terps since beating leukemia, Phillips will likely have a role similar to that of Vasturia.
In eight relief appearances over eight innings last season, Phillips recorded 10 strikeouts and walked only four batters.
Sophomore RHP Sean Heine
Heine impressed Vaughn during fall ball, and is likely to have a consistent role out of the bullpen during his second season with Maryland.
In his first season with the Terps, Heine tossed 17 1/3 innings for a 10.38 ERA. While that number isn’t spectacular, Heine has shown some improvement on the mound and has the potential to become a middle-innings reliever for the Terps heading into 2020.
Sophomore RHP Daniel O’Connor
This season, it’s likely that O’Connor returns to his role as a middle-inning reliever, helping to provide some needed depth to the Terps’ bullpen.
As a freshman last season, O’Connor made 12 relief appearances for an 8.79 ERA in 14 1/3 innings, including 10 strikeouts.
Sophomore RHP Ryan Buck
Maryland fans may remember Buck from the Terps’ fall ball roster in 2018, when the then-freshman was listed as an outfielder. Buck is back again this season, but at his natural position on the mound instead.
Buck recording a 14-9 record in his senior season at Conestoga High School in Pennsylvania, and was named first team All-Central Athletic Conference in his final two years at Conestoga.
Likely to be one of Vaughn’s go-to’s out of the bullpen, 6’4″ New York native Dave Falco comes with a powerful arm. A right-hander, Falco hit 95 and 98 mph during the fall and has potential to become an extended-inning closer, according to Vaughn.
West Virginia native Chris Chaney is also likely to make some bullpen appearances for Vaughn; in high school the right-hander tossed a 6-2 record in his senior campaign, including 48 strikeouts.
The third freshman to wrap up the possible bullpen arms this season is righty Connor Staine, a New Jersey native. Staine was named First Team All-NJACC and 2018-29 MVP as a senior, after he finished his high school career with a compiled 19-6 record and 1.70 ERA.