Virginia Cavaliers: Youth May Need To Step Up

Photo - Virginia Athletics

Photo - Virginia Athletics

Pitching has almost become synonymous with the Virginia Cavaliers, as year in and year out UVA can be relied upon to have one of the best pitching staffs in all of college baseball.

This year has a different feel to it, however. Despite returning much of the core in the pitching staff, the Cavaliers have struggled at times behind staff ace – Nathan Kirby.

They could potentially be tested they have yet to be this year, as their star junior’s status for their upcoming weekend series against North Carolina State is currently up in the air after suffering a lat strain in Friday’s game against the Miami Hurricanes.

Coach Brian O’Connor said they should know Kirby’s status within the next two days, and a setback could force freshman Derek Casey into weekend action.

Casey has been one of the midweek starters, and is scheduled to pitch again this week but could still end up pitching sometime during the weekend against the Wolfpack.

One of the top prep pitchers in the region, Casey was believed to been courted by the Chicago Cubs as a potential third round pick in last summer’s draft – but the Virginia native held strong to his college commitment. Even when the St. Louis Cardinals – who like the Cavaliers, know a thing or two about pitcher – selected him in the 20th round, he never wavered from heading to Charlottesville.

He, David Rosenberger, and fellow freshman Tommy Doyle could now see an even larger role in the coming weeks if Kirby is to miss time. While Casey has been used primarily as a starter, Rosenberger and Doyle have found themselves in the bullpen. Though he has struggled with his control (13 BB in 13 2/3 innings pitched), Doyle has been strong in relief and Rosenberger has even earned a save.

While every pitcher is different, Hurricanes pitcher Andrew Suarez also dealt with a lat strain early in the season and missed a month before returning.

If that happens to be the case – and again, every pitcher is different – that would make Kirby’s estimated return right around the ACC tournament, missing series’ against N.C. State, Duke, and North Carolina.

This hasn’t been your prototypical year for the Cavaliers, as more than halfway through the regular season they find themselves unranked. Even with a series win against the Hurricanes this past weekend, Virginia finds themselves in a tie for third place in the Coastal division with Georgia Tech, six games back of first place.

However, the upside in some of the young arms is very evident and sometimes it is the being thrown into the fire that some starts are born.

UVAs new crop of youngsters just may get that opportunity, which could be a necessary evil in trying to solidify the back of the rotation down the stretch.

About the Author

Anthony Murphy
Anthony was born in Hawaii to a military family and has lived up and down the East Coast until settling in Virginia, where he has lived the majority of his life. He developed his love for baseball watching the Pirates play with his grandfather, soaking up his stories and knowledge of the game. There wasn’t a day during any of his summer break as a kid where he and his brother didn’t have a glove in their hand, even if it was just to play catch. While he has written on several websites about various other sports, baseball is his first true love in the sporting world. Anthony will be covering the University of Virginia and the rest of the ACC for College Baseball Central, and you can follow him on Twitter: A_Murphy88.