It’s highly unusual for the nation’s fourth-ranked baseball team to make a late-season, non-injury change to the top spot in its rotation, but that’s exactly what’s happening with the University of Miami.
Senior left-hander Thomas Woodrey, who was a second-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection last season as a starting pitcher, has slumped this year, going just 5-4 with a 5.46 ERA. He has been sent to the bullpen, where he had much success in his first two years at UM.
Freshman Andrew Cabezas will make his first collegiate start on Friday night when the Coastal Division-leading Canes (37-9, 16-6) host ACC rival Pittsburgh (25-20, 10-13).
“I was speechless,” Cabezas said when asked his reaction to being told he would start for the first time since last year at Coral Gables High.
Cabezas, who has a nasty slider and perhaps the best overall stuff on the team, has had his moments in the bullpen, striking out 40 batters in 35 1/3 innings while allowing only one homer. But his 4.84 ERA is high for a reliever.
Cabezas said he’s ready to go deep in Friday’s game.
“I’ve always been the type to get early contact, which keeps my pitch count low,” Cabezas said. “If they want me to go all nine, I will go all nine.”
Canes coach Jim Morris, however, said he is just hoping to get four or five innings from Cabezas, who is not yet stretched out for long outings.
Morris also said junior right-hander Cooper Hammond, who has been one of UM’s top two setup men since he arrived on campus, had Tommy John surgery on Monday and is out for the season.
Hammond, who had a 3.18 ERA in seven appearances this year, had not pitched since March 8 and was hoping to avoid surgery. But now that he is out, the Canes hope Woodrey can join freshman Frankie Bartow as the bridge to closer Bryan Garcia.
Woodrey was 15-2 with a 2.80 ERA entering this season. He was 8-0 combined in his first two years, when he pitched primarily out of the bullpen.