Iowa Hawkeyes

Desi Druschel shapes, inspires Iowa pitching staff

First-year pitching coach has built on work of Scott Brinkman

Iowa pitching coach Desi Druschel
Iowa pitching coach Desi Druschel

LINCOLN, Neb. — The days when Iowa’s weekend starting pitching trio of Nick Allgeyer, Brady Schanuel and Cole McDonald take to the mound for their scheduled starts are their easiest days of the week.

The days in between starts are when they put in considerable work with first-year pitching coach Desi Druschel fine-tuning their repertoires.

Their efforts in between starts have helped the all three pitch well on the weekends, giving Iowa an opportunity to win each time they start.

After Friday’s doubleheader split at Nebraska, they are now 11-8 this season with a 3.32 earned run average, to go with 132 strikeouts in 133.2 innings of work.

“The day we pitch, that’s the fun day,” McDonald said. “The days in between are when we do a lot of our work. All of us put it in and get it. That’s why it helps keep us healthy the whole season.”

For McDonald, the days in between starts are when he and Druschel have been working on refining his now four-pitch arsenal.

“I used to be a three pitch guy,” McDonald said. “This year right before the season, a month before we were messing around and we realized I have a 12-6 curveball and a slider instead of a slurve. Because of Desi, having him around, adding a fourth pitch, that’s helped me this year, being able to throw four pitches for a strike.”

Druschel has built what former pitching coach Scott Brinkman did in the previous four seasons.

“Desi’s taken it and for his first year, he’s done a really good job of adapting and getting in there and continuing our development with our pitchers,” Iowa Coach Rick Heller said. “He’s kept going with a lot of the stuff we were doing. He adds his own touch, which every pitching coach is going to do. He’s following the philosophy and plan of the program.”

Druschel has added a bit of an analytics approach. Combined with a strong work ethic, Druschel has inspired Iowa’s pitchers to work even harder.

“He’s definitely into numbers. He really spends a lot of time looking at different things that can help each individual pitcher to make them more effective,” McDonald said. “He’s relentless all the time. He’s working on stuff that translates to us. That carries over to us.”

Allgeyer, Schanuel and McDonald have stayed relatively injury free, a key to all three being able to pitch each weekend.

“The good thing is that means we’re staying healthy. To me, that’s the most important thing,” Heller said. “For the most part, they’ve given us a chance to win every day.”

Heller credited the work of Druschel, along with strength and conditioning coach Zach Walrod and trainer Connor Leichtle for keeping the weekend starters and the rest of the pitching staff healthy.

“(Druschel) has done a great job making sure that guys are ready to pitch not only on the field, but training,” Heller said. “He works hand-in-hand with Zach Walrod, our strength coach. These guys do a tremendous job together. Connor Leichtle, our athletic trainer — all three of those guys work hand-in-hand to make sure that our pitchers are not only in shape, but staying healthy and getting better.”

McDonald was scheduled to pitch Sunday’s series finale. Inclement weather and cold conditions have canceled Sunday’s scheduled game at Haymarket Park.

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Iowa returns to the diamond Tuesday, hosting Northern Illinois. First pitch is set for 4:05 p.m. at Duane Banks Field in Iowa City.

l Comments: (319) 398-8252; nathan.ford@thegazette.com

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