For starters

Mesa coach Hanks believes developing more pitchers key for 2013 season

Nolan Snell wore down at the end of the 2012 season, something Mesa coach Chris Hanks hopes to avoid by using more pitchers this season.



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Nolan Snell wore down at the end of the 2012 season, something Mesa coach Chris Hanks hopes to avoid by using more pitchers this season.

Chris Hanks used to let his starting pitchers determine how many innings they pitched.

The Colorado Mesa University baseball coach is changing up his philosophy this season.

“What we’re going to do to start the year is define some roles and probably something we’ve never done before,” Hanks said. “We may try to follow a pro model with a starter going five to six. Then we got a middle guy, a setup man and a closer.

“Rather than push starters to higher pitch counts in the first four weekends, we may be more conservative and make an attempt to develop more kids early and keep guys healthier.”

The Mavericks’ pitching staff carried the team to the postseason last year, but the starters wore down.

Garrett Carpenter, Jared Christensen, Dylan Evans and Nolan Snell combined to start 54 of the Mavericks’ 55 games with eight complete games among them. They pitched a total of 309 2/3 innings in their starts, going an average of 5.7 innings per start and were a combined 31-11.

The four threw 317 2/3 of the team’s 443 1/3 innings, not leaving much for the rest of the team.

Hanks felt fatigue may have caught up to the Mavericks in the postseason. They were 1-4 in the RMAC tournament and the NCAA Central Region tournament.

“I thought possibly we were a little tight at the end of last year on the mound,” Hanks said. “We had ridden five or six guys really hard. Don’t get me wrong, those guys wanted to pitch, but I think we can attempt to be smarter and find out if a guy can be a starter, a middle reliever or a setup man. You really can’t find out what kids can do until the lights are on and butts are in the seats with the pressure aspect. Whereas maybe this time of year (in the past), we told kids you might pitch, we’re going to tell kids you are going to pitch today. That might help with their preparation.”

This season, Hanks plans on getting more pitchers into the game so the staff will be fresh and ready to pitch in any situation. The No. 20 Mavericks open the 2013 season Friday with a three-game series at No. 23 UC-San Diego.

In fact, Hanks plans to go with a three-man starting rotation for this weekend and may stick with it.

“We may use our resources to focus on the first three games and leave game four (of a weekend series) open,” Hanks said. “That may afford us the opportunity to develop more kids over the course of the year. The other aspect of this, unless you go through the entire year with the same starters, which last year was one of only two years in my 15 years that occurred, you end up at some point in tournament play, where you get deeper in the tournament and start looking at matchups.”

The Mavericks had a similar example in 2006 when their closer, Brett Armour, made his first start in their final regular-season series, then made another start in regionals.

“At the end of the year, freshness in all players is a big key,” Hanks said. “We feel like we have good enough depth and quality kids, a lot of kids deserve to pitch. Now, it’s their responsibility to do something with those opportunities. The theory being late in the year, five or six kids with multiple starting opportunities puts you in better shape in a long tournament to go with matchups.

“Maybe Texas A&M-Kingsville hasn’t produced against lefties all year and Garrett Carpenter or Luke Anderson had three or four starts (during the season). We (can) bypass our traditional number three because they don’t hit lefties. We can only do that if we develop the kids along the way.”

Snell, the RMAC preseason pitcher of the year for the second consecutive year, is healthy and ready to go after his right shoulder wore down late in the season to limit his effectiveness in the postseason. Snell pitched 82 2/3 innings last season in 14 starts.

Carpenter, who missed the 2011 season with a torn ligament in his elbow, will likely pitch more out of the bullpen this season in addition to playing outfield for the first time. He threw 78 2/3 innings in 14 starts last year.

Transfers Aaron Corwin, Joey Danner and Matt Williams will likely get starts. Danner was Glendale (Ariz.) Community College’s No. 1 starter last season.

Corwin, Williams and Snell will start for the Mavericks this weekend.

“The last couple years, we’ve stayed pretty true to a rotation from start to finish,” Hanks said. “We get to postseason, we want to have a few more guys developed. If we leave game four open, it might give guys a chance to compete and get that opportunity. I’d like to go into postseason play with six or seven guys having starts.”

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