Miami had a disappointing season in 2017. There’s just no way around it.
Offensive production was clearly the biggest issue. As a team, they hit just .231/.343/.333, with no regular player hitting better than .281 on the season. Just one player had a double-digit doubles total on the season, Carl Chester, with 13. And only one player had a double-digit home run total, Romy Gonzalez, with 11. Their struggles came early (they were shut out twice by Florida on the second weekend of the season) and they just never really went away.
So pitching wasn’t the issue, but unless something drastically changes in 2018, it’s going to be on the pitching staff to hold offenses down. Much of that will fall on the duo of Jeb Bargfeldt and Michael Mediavilla.
Bargfeldt, who joined the Hurricanes after transferring from Wichita State and Cisco College, was outstanding in 2017.
In 15 starts, he went 7-3 with a 2.28 ERA. Over 87 innings, he struck out 61, walked 29, and held opponents to a .198 batting average. That was quite the jump from his freshman season at Wichita State, when he was solid but not spectacular. In that 2015 season, he was 3-4 with a 4.43 ERA. In 58.2 innings across 15 appearances (including 12 starts), he struck out 39, walked 22, with opponents hitting .273 against him.
You have to assume that Bargfeldt will go into 2018 as the surest thing in the Miami rotation.
Mediavilla, a veteran for UM, didn’t have his best year in 2017, but he’s been a quality contributor his entire career, so a bounce back season absolutely seems to be on the table.
Last year, he went 4-5 with a 4.45 ERA. In 16 appearances, 12 of which were starts, he tossed 60.2 innings, striking out 56, walking 40, and allowing opponents a .263 batting average. The season prior, however, he was outstanding, going 11-2 with a 3.40 ERA in 103.1 innings. And in 2015, he was a lights out reliever for the Canes, putting up a 1.94 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 41.2 innings of work.
The battle-tested lefty gives head coach Jim Morris and pitching coach J.D. Arteaga some versatility. He could battle for a spot in the rotation alongside guys like Bargfeldt, Gregory Veliz, and Evan McKendry, or he could hold down a role in the bullpen, where he excelled as a freshman.
Betting against Miami enjoying something of a rebound in 2018 seems like a fool’s errand. This group, judging by their reaction immediately after being left out of the field of 64 last season, was pretty stung by their 2017 results, and there’s still plenty of talent on the roster, led by a couple of senior pitchers in Bargfeldt and Mediavilla.