The first pitch of the ASU baseball season will be Friday afternoon, and it will be thrown by sophomore right-hander Ryan Burr, associate head coach and pitching coach Ken Knutson said.
Burr was the Sun Devils’ closer last season and is not only making the jump to the rotation, but also all the way to Friday night starter.
He will be followed in the rotation by a pair of sophomore left-handers: Ryan Kellogg on Saturdays and Brett Lilek on Sundays. Kellogg had a tremendous rookie season, while Lilek had his shortened by injury.
Knutson said it was an easy decision to throw Burr on Friday nights.
“We just want to put him at the front end because he’s one of our most talented guys,” he said. “He’s got four pitches that he can throw over the plate. He’s not a one-pitch guy, so hopefully he’ll be dominant at the front end.”
Burr is going to need his secondary pitches more in the rotation than he did in the bullpen. Knutson said he has been pleased with the development of his changeup, his second-best pitch behind his dominant fastball.
Knutson said that even though Burr is pitching Fridays, he doesn’t view any one day in the weekend as more important than another. He said all three pitchers have the ability to match up against any school’s Friday night starter.
“I always sort of work backwards,” Knutson said. “Sundays are a critical game, always, and Saturdays are a swing and Friday night you’re going to lock horns with really good pitching. You’re not going to score many runs, so (Burr) has the ability to go out and dominate another team. Kellogg’s a little bit more of a contact guy, so we just decided to go that way, see how it feels.”
Knutson said the fact that Kellogg pitched Saturdays last year didn’t factor into the decision-making process.
Knutson said he was also excited to see a full season from a healthy Lilek on Sundays. Lilek was limited to just one start last year, though he did make 10 appearances out of the bullpen.
“He’s not a freshman anymore,” Knutson said. “He really was sort of an athlete that pitched that we brought in here and now he’s become more of a pitching guy, so we’re looking for big things.”
ASU baseball opens the season, the final season at Packard Stadium, at home at 2:30 p.m. Friday against Baylor. Burr will take mound, followed by Kellogg at 1 p.m. Saturday and Lilek Sunday at 12:30 p.m.
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