2020 NCAA Top 25 Preview: No. 2 Louisville
Last Year: 51-18 (21-9 in ACC); reached College World Series
Final Ranking: No. 3
Coach (Record at school): Dan McDonnell (605-240, 13 seasons)
The Good News: In lefthander Reid Detmers and righthander Bobby Miller, the Cardinals have one of the best starting rotation one-two punches in the entire country. Detmers dominated in 2019 to the tune of 167 strikeouts in 113.1 innings, and Miller showed flashes of greatness while transitioning into a full-time starting role. At the back end, lefthanders Michael Kirian, who had a 1.69 ERA in relief last season, and Adam Elliott are back to help close out games. Offensively, Freshman All-American third baseman Alex Binelas, shortstop Justin Lavey, DH Danny Oriente, left fielder Zach Britton and toolsy second baseman Lucas Dunn, who can handle multiple premium defensive positions if pressed into duty, provide a good foundation among position players. Defensively, catcher Henry Davis should help curtail stolen bases with his cannon of an arm and center fielder Luke Brown, a junior college transfer, has the speed to run down just about everything in the outfield. A ton of talent returns from a team that made a deep run in Omaha last season.
The Bad News: There is some turnover in the lineup, what with the departures of Logan Wyatt, Tyler Fitzgerald, Drew Campbell and Jake Snider. The Cardinals will likely turn to a freshman in Dalton Rushing at first base and two junior college transfers, Brown and Levi Usher, in center and right field, respectively. Lavey is new to shortstop and though he has the tools to succeed there, it is a demanding position that could create a bit of an adjustment period for the former second baseman. A minor question mark is bullpen depth. Michael McAvene, Shay Smiddy and Bryan Hoeing are all gone after throwing a lot of innings in relief last season. There are plenty of quality arms on the staff to fill those innings, but it’s just a matter of finding the right pitchers for the right roles.
Player to Know: Bobby Miller, RHP
Detmers is a known commodity. In 2019, he set the Louisville program record for strikeouts in a season, which were good for second nationally, and he was named the ACC pitcher of the year. But Miller holds the key that could take the Louisville rotation from great to elite. He took steps forward last season, including throwing eight shutout innings against East Carolina in the deciding game of the super regional, and his stuff is absolutely undeniable, highlighted by a fastball that can touch 100 mph and a plus slider in the low 90s. With 12 starts among his 20 appearances last season, the next step for Miller will be taking the ball every week in 2020 and becoming a workhorse alongside Detmers.
Path to Omaha: If Louisville simply plays to its talent level and experience, it will have the inside track to get to Omaha, which would make it three trips in four seasons for Dan McDonnell’s team. An experienced rotation led by two highly-regarded draft prospects, a proven closer and a veteran-laden offense should make this team close to unflappable.
Ranking the Top 25 College Baseball Pitching Performances of the 2020 Season
In the newest edition of their weekly ranking of all things college baseball, Teddy Cahill and Joe Healy rank the 25 best pitching performances from the abbreviated 2020 season.
|C||Henry Davis, So.||.280||.345||.386||3||23||132|
|1B||Dalton Rushing, Fr.||HS -- Brighton, TN|
|2B||Lucas Dunn, Jr.||.309||.399||.398||1||25||191|
|3B||Alex Binelas, So.||.291||.383||.612||14||59||206|
|SS||Justin Lavey, Sr.||.286||.361||.366||3||33||227|
|LF||Zach Britton, Jr.||.288||.368||.470||5||28||132|
|CF||Luke Brown, Jr.||JUCO -- John A. Logan College|
|RF||Levi Usher, So.||JUCO -- Kirkwood CC|
|DH||Danny Oriente, Sr.||.332||.404||.435||1||49||193|
|LHP||Reid Detmers, Jr.||13||4||2.78||113.1||167||0|
|RHP||Bobby Miller, Jr.||7||1||3.83||80||86||0|
|RHP||Luke Smith, Sr.||6||1||4.24||68||53||0|
|RP||Michael Kirian, Jr.||3||1||1.69||32||42||5|
|RP||Adam Elliott, Sr.||3||2||2.48||32.2||33||0|