Monday, March 22, 2010

Eagles baseball not soaring to glory

Most, if not all, of us remember what the Boston College baseball team accomplished last year.  In that spring season, they qualified for their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 42 years, won a game, and lost an all-time classic 25-inning game against Texas, the national runners-up.  Despite the loss of some talent, it was not hard for many Eagles fans to be optimistic about this year.

2010 indeed started off quite well for Boston College, going 2-0 with an opening series win at Tulane.  Since then, however, it has been all downhill.  The Eagles sit at 7-12 (1-5), which simply means losing 12 out of 17 since the dual opening victories.  Their only ACC win comes courtesy of Pat Dean, by far BC's best starting pitcher, who continues to dominate Miami hitting.

At this point last season, BC was 13-6 (4-3), six games better overall than now in 2010, and 2.5 games better in conference.  There are two reasons to which one may point for the Eagles' diminished quality:

-Loss of talent.  Tony Sanchez, Mike Belfiore, and Barry Butera all left Boston College, leaving some big shoes to fill.  Sanchez was one of the stars of the offense, Belfiore was a very talented pitcher and position player, and Butera hit for a solid average.  That's just to name a few Eagles who took off. While those are significant losses, however, it's not like there's nobody left on the team.  Mickey Wiswall is a second-team All-American and he's got some decent bats around him.

-Decline in starting pitching.  This is the real culprit in my opinion.  Let's do a side-by-side comparison of the starting pitching through 19 games last season and through 19 games this season (click to enlarge):

That tells the story, doesn't it?  They're pitching less innings and giving up more runs.  The ERA of BC starting pitchers from this point last year against the whole 2010 season to date is almost 3.5 runs higher now.

The Eagles, more or less, are capable of putting runs on the board, but you're not going to win any meaningful games in the ACC if your starting pitching has an ERA in the ballpark of 9.  This staff is going to have to get a lot better as the season goes along, or things will be looking quite bleak for the Eagles' prospects.

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