Huskers looking to build up their rotation after a pre-season setback
Nebraska’s 2018 baseball season kicked off this Friday, January 26th, with the team’s first practice of the year at the Hawks indoor practice facility despite the nice weather in Lincoln today.
In a hit to the Huskers pitching rotation, Darin Erstad announced junior closer Chad Luensmann will miss the 2018 season after undergoing a Tommy John “procedure”.
Last season Luensmann made an impact for the Huskers with 27 appearances, earning eight saves with a 3.74 ERA in 43.1 innings. Notably, Luensmann finished 2017 second on the team in saves (8).
In his 2016 freshman season, Luensmann came out of the bullpen 28 times, recording 13 saves and a 1.18 ERA over 38 innings. Luensmann was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, as well as being named a freshman All-American by five organizations.
Losing the 6-4, 237 pounder means some Huskers will have an opportunity to expand their roles this upcoming season.
“It’s not ideal but that’s part of the game. It happens,” Erstad said. “We’re in a position where we have an opportunity for guys to step up.”
One Husker looking for a bigger role is RHP Luis Alvarado who was drafted in the 13th round of the MLB draft by the Seattle Mariners after last season.
Erstad expects the 6-4, 210-pound power pitcher to be the team’s Friday starter.
Alvarado, who was named a second-team Preseason All-American, pitched 16 times last year, earning a team-high ten saves. The right-handed Puerto Rican posted a 1.72 ERA while striking out 15 batters in 15.2 innings pitched.
Erstad also expects Alvarado to be in the lineup on days he is not on the mound, whether that be at first base or as the DH, but will monitor him closely as the season begins.
Alvarado’s longest outing as a Husker was 1.1 innings. However, Alvarado played for the Cape Cod League’s Bourne Braves this past summer, settling in as a long reliever. He compiled a 0.91 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 19.2 innings pitched.
Erstad expects Jake Hohensee, who was the team’s Friday pitcher last season, to come out of the bullpen this year.
Nebraska opens its season against UC Riverside on Friday, February 16th, in Tempe, Arizona.
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