Preseason Countdown No. 6: Starting Pitchers Preview

Approaching year five of the Rob Vaughn era, Maryland figures to have as strong of a starting rotation as it’s had under the head coach. It’s easily the biggest strength of the roster. 

“Those three are going to carry us,” senior reliever Sean Heine said. 

One of those three, and the headliner of the group, is’s preseason Big Ten pitcher of the year Nick Dean. The right hander led last season’s starting rotation with a 2.87 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP as a sophomore. 

Now as a junior, he’ll be in line to start Friday nights, taking over for Sean Burke who held the role last season. 

Sophomore Ryan Ramsey led all qualified pitchers with a 1.67 ERA last season as a freshman. He mostly entered out of the bullpen in a multiple inning role, but now slides into the rotation spot left by Burke. 

His 2021 season was headlined by an eight inning, one earned run outing in the regional that sent Maryland to the regional championship. It’s a game that he and the team are hoping propels him into his first season as a full-time starter. 

It was an up and down freshman season for Jason Savacool 2021. Two of his first three starts were complete games and he allowed just nine earned runs across his first four games. 

From there, his ERA ballooned, allowing four or more runs in his next four starts. He capped off his freshman season with a 2 2/3 inning, six run outing against Michigan and a 3 1/3 inning, eight run performance in Maryland’s first game of its regional tournament. By season’s end, Savacool led all Maryland pitchers in innings. 

“We put him in a big spot last year,” Vaughn said. “That ain’t an easy spot as a freshman.” 

In the offseason, Savacool was scheduled to play in the Cape Cod Collegiate Baseball League, but he and the Maryland staff decided it would be best if he didn’t. 

Entering his sophomore season, he and the staff are focused on maintaining his body to be able to withstand a long season and keep fatigue from crippling his season. Savacool began working out four days a week and staying on campus over the summer with the team’s strength coach Nathan Garza. 

“I thought a big thing he needed to do was really get his body right, get a little more physical to be able to hold up through the courses of a rigorous season,” Vaughn said. “He came back in the fall and his body was just different. I’m fired up.” 

With the return of midweek non-conference games to the schedule, it allows Vaughn to give younger pitchers an opportunity they wouldn’t otherwise get during an in-conference weekend series. He highlighted freshmen Andrew Johnson and Ryan Van Buren as possible candidates to start in those matchups. 

“We’re going to be able to develop some of those young arms to slide into weekend rotation in the future,” Vaughn said. 

Vaughn is entering his fifth season as head coach with something he’s never had before.  Most programs struggle to put together a group of three solid starting pitching options, therefore turning Sunday into a bullpen game of sorts. This season, Vaughn doesn’t see that problem arising. 

“We’re going to run out three starters on the weekend that I think give us a chance to win every single game,” he said. “To be able to run those guys out there on a weekend series, holy cow. I haven’t had that through the whole weekend. Sunday was always kind of a revolving door. I really think we have three No. 1s. As good a top three as we’ve had here.”