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ASU baseball: Ryan Burr moves back to the bullpen

Burr will move back to his desired closer role after starting just three games this season.

ASU sophomore pitcher Ryan Burr (above) is once again a closer.
ASU sophomore pitcher Ryan Burr (above) is once again a closer.
(Courtesy ASU Athletics)

ASU pitching coach Ken Knutson won’t mind spending less time with sophomore pitcher Ryan Burr.

"When he’s not pitching, he’s sort of a pain in the ass because he doesn't get to play," Knutson admitted.

Burr, the Sun Devils’ Friday night starter for the first three weeks of the season, announced via Twitter Monday afternoon that he’s making the switch back to closer, where he set the school’s freshman save record last season.

Knutson said Burr came to him and head coach Tim Esmay about making the move, a move Knutson said they were kicking around since the start of the season.

Knutson thinks it’s the best move not only for the team, but for Burr personally.

"There’s some guys that are just wired different," Knutson said. "Burr wants to win every game, he’s a true Sun Devil and he wants to fight."

Burr, whose ERA has skyrocketed from 2.20 last season to 6.57 this year, wasn’t shy about confessing his preference for the closing role.

"To be honest, I feel like the closing position is more like my personality," Burr said. "I just don’t feel as comfortable out there as a starter as I do closing."

Like Knutson, Burr thinks he can help the team the most in the back end of the bullpen, where he can pitch more than just once a week.

"I like being out there every day competing and I feel like I can help the team the most if I’m out there every day," Burr said.

The decision became easier for Burr after the Sun Devils went 3-0 last weekend in Surprise and received strong performances from multiple pitchers.

Sophomore Brett Lilek, arguably the Sun Devils’ most effective pitcher this season, will move to Burr’s vacated Friday night spot and junior Darin Gillies, coming off the best start of his Sun Devil career Thursday against Santa Clara, will move into the Sunday role.

"Talking to Snake (Knutson) and Es, we figured there’s three guys right now that have started before and are doing great," Burr said.

The timing of the announcement was peculiar given Burr was coming off the best start of his career - a six inning, two run performance Friday against Gonzaga.

Knutson believed the time was right to make the switch, though, with just two weeks until conference play starts.

Burr couldn't wait any longer, admitting he "missed the emotion, the adrenaline and all those sorts of feelings" that came with closing.

His first test could come as soon as this weekend when the Sun Devils face undefeated Tennessee at Packard.

Whenever the time comes, Burr will be ready.

"You can’t be a closer if you’re soft-minded or weak-minded and I feel like that’s one of the strongest parts of my personality," Burr said. "I feel like I can beat anybody on any given day."