Consistent action creates consistent results — just ask Penn baseball senior Gabe Kleiman.
The pitching group for the Quakers looks drastically different than it did a year ago, and it has been difficult to get everyone on the same page in terms of consistency. But one player that has been key in providing stable leadership and performance is Kleiman.
After being a regular starter for the past two seasons, Kleiman entered this year projected to lead a new-look rotation made up of first-time starters senior Jack Hartman and sophomore Christian Scafidi, and returning starter sophomore Mitchell Holcomb. So far this season, it’s been a mixed bag for Kleiman and the Quaker staff.
“It’s been a little inconsistent,” coach John Yurkow said. “At times they’ve been really good, at other times just ok.”
Early season contests have shown just how good and how bad this rotation can be. Against tough competition, each individual starter has had both stellar and subpar performances. They have all demonstrated the ability to start games strong and hold opposing offenses at bay in the first few innings, but they have struggled to sustain this success through six or seven innings and deliver quality starts.
“If we’re going to make a run in the the conference we’re just going to have to be a little more consistent,” Yurkow said.
The first Ivy League test this past weekend against Brown gave the starting rotation an opportunity to establish some consistency. The Quakers dropped the series 2-1, but the pitching tells a completely different story.
Holcomb, Scafidi, and Kleiman were hampered by poor defense in Saturday’s losses, but they combined to allow only four earned runs in 16 innings of work. Hartman, on the other hand, was unable to make it out of the first inning of Sunday’s win, giving up six earned runs and only managing to record one out before being pulled.
If consistency is going to define the success of this rotation, then it is good to have Gabe Kleiman leading it. While he hasn’t been shutting opposing offenses down, Kleiman has delivered quality starts through his team’s defensive struggles. Only 13 of his 21 runs given up have been earned, and he sports a 30/7 strikeout-to-walk ratio to go along with a respectable 3.73 ERA. Beyond his performance on the mound, Kleiman brings experience and leadership to the starting rotation and to the entire roster.
“He’s already in that role as far as leadership,” Yurkow said.
As one of Penn’s senior captains, Kleiman serves as a stabilizing force for a relatively young team that features a considerable amount of freshman and sophomore players. His presence atop the rotation is important to the Quakers’ overall success.
Consistency in the pitching staff can permeate through the rest of the team, and help to right the ship defensively and get the offense humming. It all starts with leadership coming from the players who have been there in the past and know how to maintain a high level of play late into the month of May.
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