Maryland baseball enters 2018 after a tumultuous offseason that saw some key contributors leave the program. None were more important than head coach John Szefc, who left the program to take the same job at Virginia Tech. Longtime assistant Rob Vaughn takes over after five years as an assistant.
Despite being an offensive-minded coach, Vaughn must find a way to navigate the pitching staff questions this year. The Terps return two of their three weekend starters from 2017, but there is plenty of turnover beyond that.
Maryland must handle some change at the top of its rotation and the back of its bullpen entering 2017. Brian Shaffer, the Terps’ ace last season, and Ryan Selmer, Maryland’s closer, both entered the MLB Draft, leaving major holes that Maryland needs to fill.
Shaffer was a workhorse in 2017, taking on the role of the Terps’ Friday night starter. The righty started 16 games last year, resulting in 108.1 total innings, and secured one shutout and two complete games in that span. Maryland’s ace pitched to a 2.66 ERA to lead the staff and finished second in the conference with 109 strikeouts, earning him a Big Ten Pitcher of the Year award and prompting the Diamondbacks to draft him in the sixth round.
Selmer, meanwhile, was incredibly reliable out of the bullpen for Maryland. The closer finished the season with eight saves and a 3.05 ERA in 27 appearances and 41 innings pitched. Selmer’s strong college career earned him a spot as a Mets 31st-round pick.
Maryland’s pitching staff also loses Mike Rescigno, who appeared in 14 games last year, and Taylor Stiles, who pitched to a 4.05 ERA in 19 appearances, including three starts. As for transfers, Andrew Miller is the bullpen’s biggest loss, as he had a 1.96 ERA in 20 games last year.
Maryland’s big additions to the staff are lefty Randy Bednar, a two-way player from Bethesda who was drafted by the Braves in the 2017 MLB Draft, and Mark DiLuia, a righty from Illinois. Bednar, however, is probably not going to make much of an impact on the mound this year, as he will likely focus more on hitting and playing the outfield. DiLuia, however, could be an important arm down the stretch. In addition, freshman lefties Grant Burleson, Drew Wilden and Sean Fisher will look to make an impact out of the bullpen.
Maryland’s incoming transfers include Alec Tuohy, a senior reliever coming from Buffalo, who totaled a 4.57 ERA in four season with the Bulls.
Shaffer’s exit makes way for senior Taylor Bloom to take over as Maryland’s ace for the season. The righty was inconsistent in 2017, pitching to a 3.83 ERA, and he has big shoes to fill as Maryland’s likely Friday starter. After Bloom in the rotation is projected Saturday starter Tyler Blohm, a sophomore lefty who had a strong freshman season with a 3.48 ERA. Between Bloom and Blohm, Maryland is hoping to replace Shaffer’s production in the rotation.
Things get a little shakier after the top two. Hunter Parsons is the Terps’ projected Sunday starter, a righty who has started nine games in two seasons. Parsons had a strong freshman season in 2016 with a 3.50 ERA, but he struggled mightily last year with a 12.05 ERA in 12 appearances. If Parsons can regain his 2016 form, it automatically strengthens Maryland’s rotation.
As for the midweek starter, it looks like DiLuia will get the first midweek start, giving him the upper hand to keep the job for the season.
Vaughn named John Murphy Maryland’s opening day closer, giving the junior the first opportunity to secure the job this year. In 2017, Murphy excelled with a 1.71 ERA in 17 games pitched, 16 of which coming out of the bullpen. However, the junior only recorded one save last year, so there may be an adjustment period getting used to the new role.
After Murphy, Ryan Hill is the other important piece to the bullpen, coming off a year where he pitched in a team-high 29 games. Totaling 46.2 innings pitched, Hill compiled a 5.01 ERA in 2017.
The rest of the bullpen is relatively inexperienced. Along with the incoming freshmen and Tuohy, Elliot Zoellner and Mike Vasturia plan to make in impact in middle relief. Zoellner only pitched in one game last year, failing to record an out, while Vasturia is available after redshirting last season.
Maryland’s pitching rotation has a ton of question marks entering 2018, but the Terps are hoping for a few bounce back seasons to replace cornerstones Shaffer and Selmer.