Baseball Season Preview Day 2: The Bullpen

Feb. 15, 2011

Heading into UCSB's season-opener this Friday, Feb. 18, UCSBgauchos.com will perform a four-part series to preview the Gauchos.

Season seats are still available by clicking here. With each season seat purchased, fans will receive the new Sunday hat.

Also, 45 of the Gauchos' 54 games this year will be broadcast live, beginning with opening weekend. Click here to see the full schedule.

With so much depth on the Gauchos' roster this season, we began our four-part series with the team's outfield ( click here to see it). Keeping that theme of depth, today we will take a look at UCSB's bullpen, which heading into the season, might be the deepest the Gauchos have been in a long time.

UCSB is blessed to have four left-handers coming out of the bullpen, and perhaps a fifth, depending on when Nick Capito makes his starts. The Gaucho rightys bring a good deal of experience to the mound.

"We feel we have some options in the `pen," Brontsema said. "These guys can all pitch in different roles."

Junior Matthew Brady has been a serviceable relief pitcher in his first two years at UCSB, posting a 4.13 ERA in 28.1 innings pitched. Last season the right-hander posted a 2.51 ERA in Big West games, limiting conference foes to a .222 batting average against. This year the San Jose, Calif. native has dropped his arm slot down and will be throwing from a submarine angle.

"It's created more movement on his fastball," Brontsema said. "He wasn't a strikeout guy to begin with, so this should allow him to get more ground balls."

Senior Connor Whalen is a situational lefty, who can also go multiple innings. Last season he made 24 appearances - second-most on the team - and had a 4.00 ERA with 21 strikeouts in 18 innings. With a year of experience under his belt, Whalen is expected to have an even bigger role this year.

Returning home to Santa Barbara is senior Bryce Uhrig, a senior, who last pitched at Pepperdine. Uhrig is expected to be a middle-to-late innings reliever. In 2009 at Pepperdine he went 2-1 with a 2.62 ERA in 15 games. He pitched at Santa Barbara City College after graduating from Santa Barbara High. In his freshman year at SBCC he was 13-2 with 90 K's in 100 innings. As a sophomore he was 9-1 with 70 strikeouts in 80 innings.

Another addition to the Gauchos with recent SBCC success is southpaw Zak Edgington, a highly-touted pitcher who was named the SBCC Male Athlete of the Year in 2010. He had a 21-strikeout game for the Vaqueros last year and K'd 101 batters in 80 innings pitched. He is considered a spot starter for the Gauchos, but will see most of his time out of the bullpen.

A pair of freshmen - left-hander Cameron Cuneo and righty Casey Schapper - will add depth to the bullpen.

"Cuneo is a guy who we will use situationally with some spot starts," Brontsema said, "and Schapper is a long guy who certainly adds depth."

All of the aforementioned pitchers will be trying to get the ball into Kevin Gelinas' left hand at the end of the game as UCSB finally feels it has a legitimate closer.

Gelinas, who only pitched in four games last year due to elbow trouble, is a big strikeout pitcher that can easily nail down the final three outs - or more - for the Gauchos. As an example, he made four appearances last season and in three of them he struck out two batters.

"He is someone who brings the stability to close games," Brontsema said. "He is something we've been missing the last few years."

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