ASU baseball: Ryan Burr transitioning from closer to starter

Sophomore pitcher Ryan Burr had a 2.20 ERA in 31 appearances last season. - (Courtesy ASU Athletics)

Burr will become a starter this season after setting the school's freshman save record last season.

ASU baseball coach Tim Esmay has known for a while now.

His closer from last season, Ryan Burr, will make the jump to the starting rotation for his sophomore campaign, a decision that Esmay said wasn't hard at all.

"I'll be honest with you, I made that decision during the summer being around USA baseball together and watching his growth and watching everybody else," Esmay said. "I basically said, ‘Why not?'"

Esmay pointed to college pitchers like NC State junior Carlos Rodon, likely the top pick in the next amateur draft and fellow USA baseball alum, as a reason to push Burr into the rotation.

Esmay said it's necessary to have his best pitchers in the rotation, which sits well with Burr, who admitted he asked his coach this summer for a chance to start.

"Honestly, I feel that the more innings I get to pitch, the more I can help the team," Burr said.

Burr joins a deep history of pitchers to make the jump from closer to starter during Esmay's tenure, which includes Brady Rodgers and Trevor Williams, the past two Friday night starters.

Burr helped the Sun Devils out mightily in his first season, setting the freshman school record with 12 saves.

He said he learned a lot from his closing experience, most of which Burr plans on transferring to his new role.

"Definitely (I learned) how to deal with emotions," Burr said. "When you come out in the ninth inning, it's basically up to you to close the door."

One thing Burr will have to adapt to is the larger workload of a starter.

Esmay thought Burr was physically ready to start last season, though, so neither coach nor player thinks the transition will be that difficult.

"We're in that process right now," Burr said. "Each time I'm in a scrimmage I'm working to get my arm ready to be a starter."

Esmay also confirmed Burr will join fellow sophomores Ryan Kellogg and Brett Lilek in the starting rotation, and Esmay believes each of those starters "could be the Friday guy in most programs."

Burr agreed.

"I think you can stack us three up against any weekend starting rotation in not only the Pac-12 but the country," Burr said.

Burr said he doesn't care what day he starts during the weekend, just that he has the opportunity to reach the ninth inning a few more times.

"I had the most fun of my life being a closer last year," Burr said. "There's nothing like coming in the game when it's close, the adrenaline rush and striking guys out. I'm going to miss that, but it's also an opportunity to work hard for eight innings, so I can get back to that ninth inning and close the game out."

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