2010 Rebel Baseball Preview: Pitchers

Posted February 12, 2010

2010 Rebel Baseball Preview: Pitchers

Like most Powerline Baseball Teams, the Rebels coaching staff hope to quickly establish the rotation and the bullpen in order to get off to a quick start to the season.

Heading into the spring, the Rebels look to have four pitchers who will compete for starts in 2010 in both league play and in tournament play.

The leader of the pack might be Dylan Solberg, who established himself as the staff ace in 2009 and may once again get the ball on opening day. In 2009, Solberg made 12 appearances in which he finished 4-5 with 67 strikeouts, only walking 4 and posting an impressie 2.89 ERA. If the Rebels could have played consistent defense behind Solberg, the 4-5 record would have been better.

Also returning to the rotation is the intimidating veteran right hander, Curt Stensrud who in 2009 posted a solid 2-2 season with a team low 2.79 ERA despite only making 7 appearances. Strensrud started to find his old form, which was the Stensrud who in the past had a blazing fastball and the aggressive mentaililty to match it. Stensrud showed flashes of that heavy fastball that made him a dominant pitcher in the PBL for many years. Stensrud was also selected as a PBL All-Star by the league in 2009 to pitch in the annual PBL vs. Battle River League All-Star Game in Camrose.

Rounding out the four candidates are new comers Joel Graumann and Cody Hovdestad who the Rebels signed in the off-season.

Graumann comes to the Rebels by way of the Camrose Axemen of the North Central Alberta Baseabll League, a league in which Graumann has pitched in for two seasons now. Since 2008 with the Axemen, Graumann has gone 0-3 with a 7.66 ERA over 24.67 innings, but the numbers are deceiving. At the age of 20, Graumann has already 2 years of pitching against current and former college players in the NCABL and his numbers have improved drastically from 2008 to 2009. 

In Graumann’s only PBL experience in 2009, he was able to handle the Bardo Athletics and the annual Tofield Canada Day tournament. He brings a decent assortment of pitches to keep hitters off balance, but the most surprising tool Graumann may possess is his fastball, which at times can hit the mid-70’s. Surprising batters because Graumann’s stature doesn’t come to mind when you think heavy fastball.

The other off-season acquisition is the left handed Cody Hovdestad whom was spotted by the head of Western Canadian Scouting for the Rebels, Kevin Reinholt. A lot is unknown about Hovdestad as he has been playing baseball with the University of Nebraska-Kearny Lopers and the Swift Current Indians of the Western Major Baseball League. From looking at Hovdestad’s WMBL and NCAA stats, one would have to assume that he has the ability to be one of the top pitchers in the PBL and a dominant pitcher against the left handed bats of the PBL.

The bullpen for the Rebels is a little but less experienced and will need to handle innings in order to save the arms of the starters for the playoffs. With the 2010 schedule shaping up to look like 33-39 games for the Rebels, 231 – 273 innings are needed to be thrown.

Corey Epp, Darcy Granberg and Ronnie Oslund hold the most pitching experience in the PBL. Epp was 2-3 with a 7.44 ERA in 2009, Granberg 0-2 with a 7.20 ERA and Oslund was 1-0 in his only pitching appearance in 2009. Epp had problems with walks in 2009 (33 walks to 24 strikeouts in 32 innings) and was unable to regain the form he displayed in the first outing of the season, as his curveball was sharp and his fastball had some zip against his former team, the Tofield Lakers. 

Granberg struggled getting guys out with runners on in 2009, however was disciplined to only allow 11 walks in 23.33 innings. Oslund returned to Ryley Rebel baseball in 2009 by defeating the Tofield Lakers handily at Bardo Sports Day in June. Should Oslund be able to get the arm back into shape and throw regularly, the Rebels would benefit greatly with his presence on the mound.

The back end of the bullpen is where the inexperience is for the Rebels. Josh Lyons, Kris Kushnerick, and Shane Metrunec provided the Rebels decent arms, but not much pitching experience. Kushnerick had the most success in 2009 finishing 1-1 over 12 innings while striking out 18 and walking 4, but a lack of a secondary pitch will limit the potential to improve. A pure “thrower” Kushnerick has a hard fastball that can sneak thourgh a line up once, but after that it is tough sledding.

Lyons and Metrunec pose the greatest risk-reward scenario for the Rebels. Lyons, like Kushnerick, is a thrower by trade, but has the ability to mix in a decent curveball to offset the hitters timing. Metrunec on the other hand is more of the deceiving pitcher, changing speeds and getting ground balls for the defense. The risk with Metrunec and Lyons is the high walk to strikeout rate (4:1 for Lyons and 1:1 for Metrunec) but the reward could be a couple solid innings eaters that give the opposition more trouble then they are expecting.

Overall the pitching staff for the Rebels should be one of the deepest and best in the league for 2010, assuming the defense plays up to par behind them. The starting rotation could arguably be considered the one of best in the PBL taking into consideration the sigings of Graumann and Hovdestad in the off-season. 

The bullpen will be better now that Epp and Granberg are joined by Oslund but still has some holes with Kushnerick, Lyons and Metrunec that if worked out, would only solidify one of the best pitching staffs in the PBL.

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