The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Point/Counterpoint: Looking for a third starter

Peter Kim
Iowa pitcher Shane Ritter winds up for the pitch at Duane Banks Field on Wednesday, April 6, 2016. The Hawkeyes only allowed 2 hits as they went on to beat the Panthers 9-1. (The Daily Iowan/ Alex Kroeze)

Entering this season, Iowa’s pitching seemed to be its strong suit. Nick Gallagher and C.J. Eldred took the pitching duties on Friday and Saturday, respectively, and Shane Ritter snagged the Sunday spot.

In Ritter’s first game as Iowa’s Sunday guy, he gave up 3 runs in the first inning against South Florida before getting pulled.

Iowa’s head coach Rick Heller noted that while the first two pitching spots were secure, the third spot would be up for competition, raising the question: Who should be Iowa’s Sunday starter?

Grant Judkins

The freshman looked like he was a veteran in his first start, and first win, of his college career on Feb. 22 against Loras.

In front of a crowd at Banks Field, Judkins pitched 3 innings and faced 12 batters, striking out 4 and allowing only 1 hit.

Judkins did have a 3-0 cushion after one inning, but he demonstrated how to hold an early lead.

It may not be fair to judge Judkins based on his lone start, but no other pitchers (aside from Gallagher and Eldred) really stand out.

Drake Robinson allowed 7 hits and 3 runs in 4 innings on Feb. 26 against Morehead State. Ritter pitched only 1 inning in that same game, giving up 2 runs.

Sammy Lizarraga gave up the same.

But Judkins hasn’t been perfect this season.

In relief duties against South Florida on Feb. 19, he gave up 1 run and 2 hits in just one inning (a stark contrast in his game against Loras).

On Tuesday, Iowa played two innings against Cornell before bad weather led the coaches to cancel the game.

Judkins got his second opportunity to start this season and pitched a solid two innings. He allowed a hit but also recorded 2 strikeouts in his short, scoreless effort.

He entered the game with a 2.25 ERA.

Judkins, Iowa’s 2016 Gatorade Player of the Year and Player of the Year his senior year of high school, is still a raw talent, much like many young players on Iowa’s roster.

Out of the Hawkeyes’ 22 newcomers, five are pitchers; Judkins stands out the most.

— Adam Hensley

Cole McDonald

After two different pitchers started on Sundays this season, Cole McDonald should take the reins at that role for the time being.

After a solid freshman campaign in 2016 in which he was the midweek starter, he went 4-1 with a 3.33 ERA with 29 strikeouts in 24.1 innings pitched.

This year, McDonald hasn’t been a pushover, either.

The sophomore from New Hampton is 1-1 so far, with a win over South Florida after coming in for Saturday starter C.J. Eldred. In the win, McDonald had 4 strikeouts in 3 innings while allowing 2 hits.

In the first series of the season against South Florida (a game in which he started) and against Morehead State (coming in to help with relief duties), Ritter did not have the best results.

However, Ritter does have potential. He went 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA in 13 appearances last year. He also started against Maryland in the Big Ten semifinal game, where he threw three shutout innings in a win.

The other pitchers who are perhaps among the best on the roster are Josh Martsching and Zach Daniels. They began the season as co-closers after leading the team in saves with 4 and 5, respectively, proving they are dangerous in that role.

Judkins also has potential in the Sunday starter role, but McDonald’s experience gives him the edge.

— Pete Ruden

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