5Sophomore Max Meyer pitches the ball on Saturday, May 4, 2019 at Siebert Field. The Gophers beat the Ohio State Buckeyes 5-4 in the bottom of the 18th inning.
In his second summer pitching for Team USA, rising junior Max Meyer has thrived in his new role, moving from the bullpen to a starter.
“I’m really happy for him and really proud”, Gophers pitching coach Ty McDevitt said. “It’s a great opportunity and he’s a great representative for our program and university. He’s got a lot of high-level baseball coming up here, and I’m excited for him because there couldn’t be a better guy to represent our program.”
After a freshman season at the U saw him put up strong stats in the bullpen, Gophers head coach John Anderson transitioned Meyer from the pen to the starting staff after a rough start. The 2019 season saw him finish with a 2.11 ERA and 87 strikeouts through 76.2 innings pitched, with a second-team All-Big Ten selection.
“He’s refined his breaking ball a lot. People were saying this past season that he had one of the best sliders in college baseball,” McDevitt said. “As good as he’s been throughout his college career, he’s always looking to get better, always trying to make adjustments and get guys out.”
Meyer spent his first summer with Team USA in the bullpen. He appeared out of the bullpen eight times as the closer, and finished with seven saves and 3.38 ERA.
Now, in his second summer pitching for Team USA, he has been able to continue to show his skills on a world stage. The right-handed Meyer has started three games and has a 1.00 ERA through 13 innings pitched. He has struck out six.
“This competition on a national scale brings out the best in him as both a pitcher and a leader on that team,” McDevitt said. “His confidence has got to be through the roof since he’s getting guys out on a national scale. The higher the stakes, the better he seems to perform.”
In addition to a stellar season starting for the Gophers, Meyer has seen another element of his game take shape: his leadership.
“Max has never been a verbal leader, but he’s a guy that wants the ball and leads by example”, McDevitt said. “Now that he’s coming off his sophomore season playing for Team USA, he’s certainly been challenged to become a better leader and he’s finding ways to bring the younger guys along with him”.
Meyer will look to continue improving on an impressive sophomore season as he heads into his junior year, his second full year in the starting rotation. McDevitt claims that, while Meyer has a lot to work on, his initiative to adjust his game is what makes the difference.
“A lot of what we asked him to do this summer he’s already done, we needed him to command his fastball better, and he’s certainly done that this summer, and his breaking ball needed to be a bit more refined, and he’s done that as well,” McDevitt said. “His change-up was in and out at times, and he’s been able to adjust that as well. He’s very adaptable and willing to take coaching and learn.”