Though not usually considered a powerhouse, the Michigan baseball team has put on quite a show in the last couple of years. In 2019, it made the title game of the College World Series. Before the stoppage of the 2020 season, it went 8-7 in a tough beginning of the schedule, including five ranked matchups. The Wolverines attribute much of their success to their depth, and with less than two weeks until the start of the season, the team expects to try out numerous rotations with a stacked roster.
Michigan coach Eric Bakich and his coaching staff were impressed by many of their players throughout the off-season, and, with a strong transfer pool, the roster became even stronger. They have players with substantial collegiate experience, but also plenty of newcomers itching to get an opportunity on the field.
“We are having a hell of a time right now,” Bakich said. “These first couple of weeks (we’re) going to have to play with a bunch of lineups and going to have to pitch a bunch of guys, just to start to try to figure it out because everybody’s doing well.”
With a 32-man traveling roster limit, the coaching staff has its hands full on even picking the players for early, out of state matchups.
“We’ve got some old guys and some returning guys that have experience,” Bakich said. “They have collegiate at-bats, and (we have) the same thing on the pitching side of things.”
Many of the Wolverines’ normal starters in last year’s lineup, like sophomores outfielder Clark Elliot, third baseman Ted Burton and catcher Jimmy Obertop, will look to build on strong starts last year and grow their game in their second season. Elliot reached base in 14 out of the 15 games he played to start his collegiate career and Burton reached base at a .275 clip.
Junior second baseman Riley Bertram and redshirt junior outfielder Danny Zimmerman are also returning for Michigan. Bertram collected five multi-hit games in the truncated season, while Zimmerman slugged a batting average of .364. With five almost-solidified starters back, there is not a lot of space in the lineup to give lots of players a chance.
“(Many players could) potentially compete to hit in the middle of the order and would have hit in the middle of our order on teams in years past,” Bakich said.
The coaching staff have the difficult task of managing all of their talent on the field and on the mound. But there are worse problems to have. Senior right-handed pitcher Blake Beers echoed Bakich’s sentiments. He and the team know that to achieve their goals this year, it will take lots of sacrifices and require them to tuck away her egos.
“We always talked about how (our roles are) rented,” Beers said.“My role is not the same as last year, and I had to come back and … I’ve earned that role again. Whatever spot I’m in, I’m just looking to contribute as much as I can to our pitching staff.”
The coaches and players think they have one of the most talented rosters in the Big Ten. To reach the heights they want to, the team will just have to figure out how to most efficiently utilize it. There might be some bumps early in the season, but it is all with Omaha in mind.