Image credit: (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
On this episode of the Baseball America College Podcast, Teddy Cahill and Joe Healy are joined by UCLA coach John Savage to discuss the recently-announced facility renovations at Jackie Robinson Stadium, the excitement about his team in 2021 and his expectations for the Pac-12 in general.
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The Bruins come into the season as the No. 2 team in the country thanks to the strength of its returning roster, the bulk of which was part of the team last year that quickly established itself as a national title contender.
The pitching staff looks loaded once again with the return of a starting rotation featuring righthanders Zach Pettway, Nick Nastrini and Jesse Bergin, and a bullpen led by Kyle Mora, Michael Townsend and Sean Mullen. UCLA always pitches well, but this group could be particularly stingy in terms of allowing runs.
The lineup is marked by versatility and depth, although it is led by a player with bona fide star power in shortstop Matt McLain, who is among the favorites to be named the national player of the year. Infielder Michael Curialle, first baseman J.T. Schwartz and catcher Noah Cardenas, arguably the best defensive catcher in the country, will also be key pieces.
Among the topics discussed on this episode are:
- What the recent facility announcements mean for the UCLA program
- What it means to have a pitcher of Zach Pettway‘s caliber back to lead the rotation and what the competition on the mound was like during the fall
- What Savage has seen in terms of Matt McLain‘s development since arriving on campus
- Players that haven’t made a mark yet that Savage thinks will be important players in the lineup this season
- The prospect of having to tinker with the lineup a little more this season, given the depth on the roster
- Savage’s expectations for the Pac-12 this season