Season Preview Day 4: The Starting Pitchers

Feb. 17, 2011

Heading into UCSB's season-opener this Friday, Feb. 18, UCSBgauchos.com will perform a four-part series to preview the Gauchos.

Season seats are still available by clicking here. With each season seat purchased, fans will receive the new Sunday hat.

Also, 45 of the Gauchos' 54 games this year will be broadcast live, beginning with opening weekend. Click here to see the full schedule.

With so much depth on the Gauchos' roster this season, our four-part series has focused on that aspect. First, we began with the team's outfield (click here to see it), then took a look at all of the arms the bullpen has to offer (click here for Day 2). On Wednesday, we went around the horn to look at the Gauchos' infield (click here to see it).

The final part of our series is no different as we take a look at UCSB's starting pitchers.

Jesse Meaux is one of the best pitchers in the Big West and the Gauchos know they're fortunate to have him back after he was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies last June.

"We're excited that he's excited about being back to lead our staff," Brontsema said. "His senior leadership has been very good this year."

Meaux, a senior from Glendale, will be the team's Friday starter, taking the baton from the previous two Friday starters he's been around - Joe Gardner and Mario Hollands. Last season Meaux led the team with an 8-3 mark and was an All-Big West Honorable Mention pick.

A durable starter, Meaux went at least seven innings in 10 of his starts and led the team in innings pitched. He walked just 18 batters, which was ninth-fewest in the conference. Meaux followed up his stellar junior season with an exceptional summer spent between the Cape Cod League and the Santa Barbara Foresters, where he was an All-Tournament pick in the National Baseball Congress World Series.

A certain weekend pitcher is senior Greg Davis, who came on strong at the end of the 2010 season. The 6-foot-4 righty from Huntington Beach will pitch on either Saturday or Sunday after striking out the second-most batters on the team last year. In his final start last year Davis threw a complete game, allowing just one run to Pacific.

Davis has experience starting, as 12 of his 33 games as a Gaucho have come as the starter and last year his 14 walks were the second-fewest amongst Big West pitchers.

"He has the most experience of any of our other guys as well as the most success," Brontsema said.

Keeping up with the theme of this year's team is that three pitchers - Nick Capito, Nick Loredo and Matt Vedo - will be challenging each other for the final weekend spot. One of the three will then flip over to become the mid-week starter with the third providing depth on the weekends or in midweek games.

The left-handed Capito had an up-and-down 2010 season as he was a Big West Pitcher of the Week after tossing a complete-game shutout (which followed a previous complete game, where he allowed just two runs). However after he was struck with a batted ball on April 24, and although he didn't miss a start the rest of the year, he finished with a 7.09 ERA.

Capito walks few batters - just 19 in 72.1 innings - but doesn't overpower batters.

Loredo is a senior who had some big games in his first season as a Gaucho last year. He pitched seven strong innings with just one earned run against No. 24 Stanford and had 6.1 innings vs. Northern Illinois with four strikeouts.

However, Loredo posted a 7.28 ERA. Like Capito, Loredo doesn't walk many hitters, issuing just 16 free passes in 55.2 innings last year and he did have two saves.

Vedo is a newcomer with a solid junior college mark. At Yuba College, he was an all-conference pick in 2010 with his 2.56 ERA and 76 strikeouts in 77.1 innings pitched. As a freshman he had a 4.21 ERA in 66.1 innings with 48 strikeouts.

"Vedo has a very strong arm," Brontsema said. "He is a guy with a plus-breaking ball who has been impressive as of late. His curveball is his strikeout pitch and he touches the low-90s with his fastball."

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