#43 Iowa Baseball 2016 Preview

Iowa Hawkeyes
Overall Rank: #43
Conference Rank: #3 Big Ten
 Iowa Logo 
Iowa is coming off of a superb 2015 season. Coach Rick Heller led his Hawkeyes to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1990 and Iowa made things interesting in the Springfield Regional. They beat Oregon twice and fell to host Missouri State twice in a couple of very closely contested games. With momentum and talent returning in 2016, Iowa will be looking for another trip to the NCAA Tournament.
2015: 41-18, 19-5
2015 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Rick Heller
Field Players:
This is not a power Iowa team. They want to play small ball and take advantage of the speed they have with players like Nick Roscetti and Joel Booker. However, losing Eric Toole and his 29 stolen bases is a big loss. But Roscetti and Booker can get on base and the hope is some power develops in the middle of the lineup to help replace Kris Goodman and leading RBI producer Jake Mangler. Nick Roscetti and Daniel Aaron Moriel are the most experienced options.
Calvin Mathews and Tyler Peyton will lead a strong group of pitchers. Mathews started 15 games last season, allowing just 20 earned runs in 73.1 innings pitched. Peyton is the more dominating pitcher and will likely be the ace of this staff. His ERA was more inflated at 3.03 than the other regular starters, but he is a big 6-3 senior who can tally plenty of strikeouts. Peyton also is the team’s top returning RBI producer with 31 and led the team with a .337 batting average. Sophomore Nick Gallagher earned five midweek starts and should be ready to step into the weekend rotation. However, he will have competition from freshman Cole Baker, who was a dominate pitcher in the state of Iowa during his prep career. Luke Vandermaten will be the senior leader of the bullpen after sporting a 1.06 ERA in 42.1 innings pitched in 2015.
Who to Watch:
Iowa’s lineup last year was very balanced and that worked out very well for the Hawkeyes. This year will likely be the same, but it would be nice if somebody could emerge as a reliable power hitter. Grant Klenovich is not known for his power, but he does have some pop to his bat. Last season as a freshman he made just 14 appearances, but Klenovich is a talent who can be a difference maker moving forward.
Final Projection:
Once again Iowa will have to rely heavily on their strong pitching staff, but this is a group that can string together some 4-3 and 3-2 wins like they did last year. Coach Heller and this group know how to win close games and they can generate enough runs to win 40 games again this season. Maryland, Illinois and Michigan all have to come to Iowa City and a few series wins there will keep Iowa right in the mix for a Big Ten title. The non-conference slate includes a rematch trip to Springfield, Missouri to take on Missouri State as well as a trip to Dallas Baptist to open the season. Those two series will give Iowa a good idea of where they stand heading into Big Ten play.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament
Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Joel Booker, OF, 217
Hits: Tyler Peyton, P/IF, 63
Home Runs: Joel Booker, OF, 2: Eric Schenck-Joblinske, OF, 2
RBIs: Tyler Peyton, P/IF, 31
Runs: Tyler Peyton, P/IF, 31
Stolen Bases: Nick Roscetti, IF, 9; Joel Booker, IF, 9
Wins: Tyler Peyton, P/IF, 7
Innings Pitched: Tyler Peyton, P/IF, 95.0
Strikeouts: Tyler Peyton, P/IF, 74
Saves: Luke Vandermaten, P, 4