Notre Dame will go into the 2017 season with a projected starting rotation of Peter Solomon, Brandon Bielak, and Brad Bass. That’s a trio that still has quite a bit to prove at this level, but if their potential is any indication, their presence bodes well for the team’s overall success.
Solomon has held a couple of different roles for the Fighting Irish in his career. As a freshman in 2015, he appeared in nine games (all out of the bullpen) and threw 19.1 innings, but he was very effective in those innings. He had a 1.40 ERA, saved four games, struck out 19, and allowed opponents to hit just .215 against him. In 2016, he occupied a swingman role, and it was a bit of an up-and-down campaign. The positives were that he continued to show dominance, as he struck out 71 in 57.2 innings. On the negative side, he walked 42 and he would probably like to improve upon his 4.68 ERA. If his 0.54 ERA in the prestigious Cape Cod League is any indication, he’s well on his way to doing so.
Bielak started his career as a starting pitcher for the Irish back in 2015, going 6-3 with a 3.55 ERA. In 88.2 innings, he struck out 62, walked 33, and allowed opponents to hit just .245 against him. Last year, he started four games, but with 11 appearances out of the bullpen, he was primarily a reliever. All told, he threw 55.2 innings, and he was outstanding in those innings. He had a 2.10 ERA, struck out 54, walked 25, and had a .214 opponent batting average. He, too, had a stellar summer on the Cape and flashed his plus stuff.
As far as Bass goes, it has been a mixed bag. In 2015, Bass was a dominant reliever for the Irish. Over 19 appearances, he tossed 33 innings, putting up a 1.91 ERA and a .198 opponent batting average. His 2016 season, though, was filled with adversity, as he missed significant time due to injury, and when he was on the mound, he had a 11.68 ERA over 12.1 innings of work with a .327 opponent batting average. He makes Notre Dame three-for-three in terms of having their starting pitchers appear on the Cape, however, and with that experience and a fastball that runs well into the upper-90s, he certainly has the goods to succeed in a big way.
There are more accomplished and more polished starting rotations out there, but it’s hard to imagine a starting rotation with more untapped potential than the one Notre Dame will run out there come the start of the season.