Purdue had one of its most successful seasons in school history in 2018. The Boilermakers were at a stagnant 16-16 record but went on a 21-2 streak, which brought them to the BIG 10 title game in the conference tournament and a trip to just its third-ever NCAA regional.
Although coming off a significant year of success, Purdue will have almost a completely different team. As a team, the Boilermakers lost six members of its lineup, two of its weekend starters and its closer.
Purdue’s roster last season featured 10 true freshman and two redshirt freshmen. Much like last year, the Boilermakers will have a large amount of youth again as the team currently has 12 true freshmen and three redshirt freshmen.
Purdue’s lost members of its pitching staff equal out to 252.1 innings lost, but at the same time, the squad returns 272.1 innings.
Ryan Beard is a guaranteed member of Purdue’s weekend rotation and the likely Friday starter. Beard will attempt to replace last year’s ace and Friday starter Tanner Andrews who posted a 2.94 ERA. Beard who made 11 starts, which is the most the team returns. The 6 foot, 4-inch left-handed pitcher threw 45 strikeouts, 25 walks and posted a 4.26 ERA with a 5-3 record.
Trent Johnson looks to be another viable option as a weekend starter with nine starts under his belt. Johnson returns with the team’s best ERA of 1.76 in 41 innings of work but posted a 39-30 strikeout to walk ratio.
Two other potential starters or likely go-to bullpen guys that will be thrown on opening weekend are Trevor Cheaney and Bo Hofstra as the two combined for 57 appearances and six starts. Hofstra threw a 3.61 ERA in 52.1 innings of work, struck out 49 and walked 15 while Cheaney threw a 4.50 ERA in 40 innings, struck out 44, and walked 23.
Another notable bullpen option could be Hayden Wynja who redshirted last season as a freshman. The 6 foot, 8-inch left-hander was selected in the MLB draft in the 30th round out of high school.
For Purdue’s lineup, the team has to replace six members of its lineup that contributed to its .280 batting average. Defensively the team will have to replace its entire infield.
The biggest bat returning is Ben Nisle after being named as a Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-American and a member of the Big Ten All-Freshman team. Nisle hit a .304 on the season with seven home runs. Senior Skyler Hunter returns the highest batting average of .333 where he also hit 13 doubles and a home run.
Despite the significant turnover, Purdue’s head coach Mark Wasikowski’s talent and experience cannot be ignored. Leading up to becoming head coach of Purdue in 2016, Wasikowski was an assistant coach that was part of Arizona’s 2004 world series team and was a part of 14 NCAA tournament appearances as an assistant coach. Wasikowski turned the program around as the team went 10-44 overall and 2-22 in conference play in 2016 and in just his second season, led the Boilermakers to one of its most successful seasons in program history.