Wright, Houck and McKay Showcase College Pitching

What a weekend it was for college pitching!

As we enter the final month before the 2017 MLB draft, the top arms are rounding into form and as a result, we got to witness some truly incredible performances this past weekend. Let’s start on Friday, with the No. 1 college pitcher on our draft board.

Brendan McKay, LHP, Louisville

Final line: 8 innings, 1 hit, 0 runs, 4 walks, 8 strikeouts, win
Season line: 7-3. 1.92 ERA, 11 games, 11 games started, 75.0 innings, 41 hits, 16 runs, 20 walks, 103 strikeouts, .160 opponents batting average

McKay continued his tremendous junior campaign with another gem, although he did have to work his way around a season-high four walks in his 11th start of the year, a 2-0 win against Notre Dame. Friday’s start marked the third time in his last four starts that McKay has gone at least eight-innings, but it was his first start in nearly a month in which he didn’t surrender any runs. McKay flashed his usual array of pitches, and while his fastball command wasn’t as sharp as we’ve seen it, it’s still arguably his most impressive tool. His curveball looked impressive as well, and helped him send the first three hitters of the game down on strikes. McKay likely has two starts remaining before the ACC tournament.

Alex Faedo, RHP, Florida

Final line: 6 innings, 3 hits, 0 runs, 3 walks, 9 strikeouts, win
Season line: 7-1, 2.42 ERA, 12 games, 12 games started, 78.0 innings, 59 hits, 21 runs, 25 walks, 93 strikeouts, .206 opponents batting average

Faedo picked up his fourth consecutive victory in a 11-2 win over Ole Miss, and did so in relative ease. The Gators scored seven runs in the fourth inning and tacked on two more in the fifth, giving him plenty of cushion. The right-hander scattered three hits and three walks and ended the night with back-to-back strikeouts in the sixth. His fastball looked as good as it has all season, sitting 92-95 mph, and his slider was it’s usual devastating self. He even mixed in his changeup more than usual. He showed some grit too, escaping the only real trouble he had during the fourth, after putting two men on with no outs, before getting a fly out and two strikeouts.

Alex Lange, RHP, Louisiana State

Final line: 9 innings, 5 hits, 3 runs, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts, loss
Season line: 5-5, 3.27 ERA, 12 games, 12 games started, 74.1 innings, 69 hits, 27 runs, 28 walks, 91 strikeouts, .245 opponents batting average

Lange has never been particularly graceful in his pitching. He gives up a lot of hits and walks three or four batters each outing, but he epitomizes the moniker “bulldog mentality,” and as a result, he’s been incredibly successful during his three years at LSU. Friday night’s start was a pretty good summation of his career. He scattered five hits, issued two walks, and surrendered three runs in an erratic outing that alternated between dominating and “going off the rails.” Most of the damage was done during the second inning, where Lange gave up four hits, three runs and a stolen base. In typical Lange fashion, he retired the next seven batters in a row. Lange did manage to go the distance, his second complete game of the year and sixth of his career.

Luke Heimlich, LHP, Oregon State

Final line: 8 innings, 7 hits, 0 runs, 1 walk, 12 strikeouts, win
Season line: 7-1, 0.71 ERA, 12 games, 12 games started, 88.1 innings, 49 hits, 7 runs, 19 walks, 99 strikeouts, .162 opponents batting average

Heimlich is working his way into first-round consideration with one of the most dominating campaigns in college baseball this year. His 0.71 ERA leads the nation by a healthy margin, ranks sixth in hits allowed per nine innings, and second in WHIP. Even more impressive, he has yet so allow a home run (or a triple for that matter), despite tossing nearly 90 innings. Heimlich strengthened his case for pitcher of the year with eight shutout innings on Friday, striking out 12 of the 30 batters he faced. With at least two more starts remaining, Heimlich has already set career-highs in nearly every pitching category, including wins, strikeouts and innings pitched. Together Heimlich and Jake Thompson (10-0, 1.20 ERA) form one of the most potent 1-2 combos in recent memory, making No. 1 ranked OSU the prohibitive favorite to take home the College World Series trophy this year.

Saturday also saw some dominating performances.

Kyle Wright, RHP, Vanderbilt

Final line: 9 innings, 3 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, 13 strikeouts, no-decision
Season line: 2-5, 3.35 ERA, 12 games, 12 games started, 75.1 innings, 60 hits, 28 runs, 25 walks, 82 strikeouts, .216 opponents batting average

Neither Wright nor Tanner Houck came out with the W on Saturday night, but both came away victorious, showcasing their premium stuff in one of the best pitching matchups of the season. Statistically, Wright had the better performance, tying a career-high with 13 strikeouts over nine scintillating innings. Most impressive, however, was how he got better as the game wore on. Going into the sixth inning, Wright had six strikeouts and a walk. From the sixth through the ninth, he struck out seven of the 12 batters he faced. Vandy coach Tim Corbin must have been tempted to send him back out for the 10th, but with his pitch count at 119, he wisely chose to turn to the bullpen. The one run Wright surrendered came on a sac fly in the fifth. Clearly Wright’s record doesn’t reflect his performance, especially as of late, when he’s been arguably the hottest pitcher in the nation, showcasing a mid-90s fastball and a devastating slider.

Tanner Houck, RHP, Missouri

Final line: 8 innings, 5 hits, 0 runs, 1 walk, 9 strikeouts, no-decision
Season line: 3-7, 2.88 ERA, 12 games, 12 games started, 81.1 innings, 67 hits, 26 runs, 20 walks, 81 strikeouts

Wright’s opponent on the mound, Houck, put together his finest start of the season. For the third time in four outings, he managed to go eight innings, but this was the first time he wasn’t saddled with a loss. In fact, his no-decision Saturday finally put an end to a personal-worst, six-game losing streak for the right-hander. As you can tell from his season ERA, run support has plagued Houck all year. In fact, through 12 starts he’s received 2.8 runs of support, easily one of the worst numbers among starting pitchers in major conferences. Over his last five starts, that number has dropped to 1. Although it only happened once against Vandy, it’s worth noting that Houck has hit more batters (13) than nearly any pitcher this season. Houck’s stuff hasn’t looked nearly as good as it did near the end of last season, but he fastball looked crisp and he commanded the pitch better than he had all season against the Commodores. His slider and change also looked like above-average offerings. Most impressive, Houck appears set to surpass 100 innings for the third consecutive year, cementing his place as one of this class’s top workhorses.

David Peterson, LHP, Oregon

Final line: 7 innings, 7 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks, 10 strikeouts, win
Season line: 10-2, 1.99 ERA, 12 games, 12 games started, 81.1 innings, 72 hits, 18 runs, 8 walks, 117 strikeouts, .235 opponents batting average

Peterson assumed the national lead with his 10th victory on Saturday night in a 8-2 win that was close until the Ducks rammed home four runs in the ninth inning against Washington State. Coming off his much-heralded 20 strikeout performance against Arizona State last week, Peterson had plenty of eyes on him, and maybe the nerves got to him a bit. During a shaky first inning, the massive lefty walked two batters, after walking only six batters in his previous 74.1 innings, and gave up a hit, escaping thanks to a Cougar runner being gunned down at the plate. He retired the next six batters before running into more trouble in the fourth. He surrendered singles to four of the first five batters of the inning before buckling down and ending the inning with just two runs allowed. He coasted the final three innings before being removed after a 1-2-3 seventh.

Special kudos to another ace who made his weekend start a day early, as UCLA’s series with rival USC began on Thursday

Griffin Canning, RHP, UCLA

Final line: 9 innings, 7 hits, 0 runs, 1 walk, 10 strikeouts, win
Season line: 5-2, 2.29 ERA, 13 games, 13 games started, 86.1 innings, 67 hits, 22 runs, 24 walks, 108 strikeouts, .212 opponents batting average

Canning’s draft stock is on the rise, thanks to a string of dominating outings and four quality pitches that grade out above-average. His entire arsenal was working for him on Thursday in the Bruins series-opener against USC. He scattered seven hits and a walk during a complete-game shutout, his second in four starts. He missed a third by one out in his previous start against Cal Poly. In addition to the 10 strikeouts, Canning got seven groundball outs and the other 10 through the air. It was the fourth consecutive double-digit strikeout performance for Canning, who has whiffed 42 batters in his last 33.2 innings.

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One thought on “Wright, Houck and McKay Showcase College Pitching

  1. Pingback: 2017 MLB Mock Draft 4.0 (5/11/17) | MLB Draft Countdown

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