When the Arizona Wildcats began their 2013 season, Tyler Crawford was slated to be a long reliever and a guy who could eat up innings when needed.
Senior Augey Bill, who had pitched 21 career innings in his first three seasons at the UA, figured to be a lefty reliever who could get a batter or two out in noncrucial situations.
In other words, neither Crawford nor Bill was supposed to be a huge part of the Wildcats pitching staff this season.
And yet, with Arizona's season on line Sunday at Arizona State, Crawford started and won to move to 6-2 and Bill pitched 1 1/3 innings to pick up the save.
A couple of feel good stories for sure, it's also an indication of where the UA's pitching is these days.
"I say it all the time, 'as the pitching goes, the program goes,'" UA coach Andy Lopez said. "If you went through our year and looked at everything and then our pitching, you'd say, 'they could be having a special year right now with the way they've been hitting.'
"And we're not having a special year because the program goes as the pitching goes."
Here's a closer look at how the pitching has gone for the Wildcats this season.
What it looked like at the beginning of the year: Konner Wade, James Farris and Stephen Manthei.
What it looks like now: Wade, Farris and Crawford
The lowdown: Wade went 11-3 last year with a 3.96 ERA and Farris was 7-3 with a 3.97. The duo combined to throw nine complete games and were the perfect complement to ace Kurt Heyer. Fast forward a year and Wade and Farris are a combined 9-11 with one complete game and a pair of ERAs over four. Manthei had three ineffective starts before being removed from the rotation.
By the numbers: Crawford's 4.18 ERA is the best of any of the starters and his six wins are the most on the pitching staff. The sophomore from Glendale has just one loss in conference play and the Wildcats overall are 5-2 in Pac-12 games that he starts.
What it looked like at the beginning of the year: Bill, Crawford, Nick Cunningham, Tyler Hale, Cody Moffett and Tyger Talley.
What it looks like now: Bill, Moffett and Talley
The lowdown: Bill and the two freshmen, Moffett and Talley, have seen the most time out of the bullpen. Moffett had a short audition as a starter at the beginning of the Pac-12 season, but was moved to the pen in favor of Crawford. Cunningham and Hale, a pair of seniors, were given chances early in the season, but couldn't stick as real options.
By the numbers: Bill's 26 appearances are second most on the team and his 1.98 ERA is the best of any pitcher with more than five innings thrown this season. The 6-foot-9-inch senior has been one of the few consistent arms Lopez can count on this season.
What it looked like at the beginning of the year: Mat Troupe.
What it looks like now: Troupe and Bill.
The lowdown: Troupe's numbers are similar to last season, but his lack of consistency is what has been hurting the Wildcats. He's had shutdown innings and looked like the reliever he was in last year's postseason, but he's also labored through weekends like he just did at ASU, where he walked seven batters. Bill has been called on more than once to take over for Troupe when the sophomore couldn't get it done.
By the numbers: Troupe's 24 walks have been his biggest issue. He's tied with Wade for most on the team, but Wade has logged 95 1/3 innings, while Troupe has pitched just 37 2/3. He had 19 walks all of last season.
• Who: USC (20-31, 11-15) at Arizona (31-21, 12-15)
• When: 6 p.m. Friday; 1290-AM
Contact reporter Daniel Berk at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4330. On Twitter @DSBerk