When it comes to great rivalries on the West Coast, it hasn't gotten much better than UCLA and Cal State Fullerton over the past few years.
Well, the Bruins and Titans will meet yet again this weekend in the Fullerton Super Regional, and both teams possess elite weekend rotations, with Fullerton having an extremely slight edge.
The Titans entered the fall with some questions marks on the mound, but have absolutely struck gold with outstanding right-handed pitchers Thomas Eshelman and Justin Garza. Eshelman isn't an overpowering pitcher, but he has great pitchability and has great command of the strike zone. Eshelman is Fullerton's version of Greg Maddux, sitting pretty with a 1.59 ERA in 107 2/3 innings of work, along with 78 strikeouts and an incredible just two walks on the season.
Garza, by most accounts, is better than Eshelman, and that's saying something. Garza is tough as nails and has a knife-fighter type of attitude on the mound. He has a fastball that sits 91-94, with the ability to get up to 95, while he has a mid-80s slider and low-80s changeup. Garza has a 1.92 ERA in 108 innings, along with 89 strikeouts and 16 walks.
Also keep an eye on Grahamm Wiest. Though he's been overshadowed by the big two of Eshelman and Garza, Wiest shined last weekend to begin the Fullerton Regional. Wiest, not an overpowering guy, but a very solid pitcher who commands the zone, has a 3.27 ERA in 104 2/3 innings, along with 76 strikeouts and 13 walks.
As impressive as the Fullerton starting rotation is, the UCLA rotation is just about impressive for different reasons. In terms of pitchability, the Bruins are fantastic with veteran right-handed pitchers Adam Plutko and Nick Vander Tuig leading the charge.
Plutko isn't an overpowering arm by any means, but can run it up anywhere from 88-92 at times. Plutko just does a good job of commanding the zone, and that much is evident by his 2.51 ERA in 104 innings, along with 75 strikeouts and 26 walks. Vander Tuig is pretty much in the same boat with a fastball that can touch 92 at times, while he has a 2.51 ERA in 107 2/3 innings of work.
There's also sophomore left-handed pitcher Grant Watson. Like the other two in the rotation, he's not going to overwhelm you with his fastball. As a matter of fact, Watson typically sits in the mid-to-upper 80s with his fastball, but he also has a 79-80 changeup and 73-75 curveball. Watson has a 3.22 ERA in 86 2/3 innings of work so far this season.