MORGANTOWN — It is hard to imagine that any college pitcher, anywhere in the United States, could be lingering in the shadows heading into the second half of May with the numbers West Virginia’s Nick Snyder has authored.
Yet, that is just where he finds himself as the Mountaineers head into the final days of the regular season and then the Big 12 Championship.
Snyder has started 10 games this year. West Virginia has won all 10 of his starts with him going 8-0 in those games.
He does have one defeat in an early-season relief performance, but there is nothing wrong with an 8-1 record spun from a 1.95 ERA, while allowing just 30 hits in 55.1 innings and registering 86 strikeouts.
Most amazing, perhaps, is allowing just four extra base hits in 55.1 innings of work.
So why is he in the shadows?
Well, the performance Alek Manoah has created in one season is among the greatest by any WVU pitcher ever. He is 7-3 with a 1.89 ERA with 121 strikeouts.
And while Snyder has been a midweek starter all season, working just a couple of innings of relief against Big 12 batters, Manoah has faced the far tougher road that comes with conference opponents.
Manoah has been thoroughly dominant, winning national pitcher of the week three times while putting himself in a position to rewrite the Mountaineer record book for pitchers.
But do not discount the importance of what Snyder has done. Certainly, coach Randy Mazey doesn’t, for he knows you solidify your place in the rankings by having that pitching depth that allows you to dominate midweek.
WVU this season is 19-7 in non-conference games with 17 of those games played away from Mon County Ball Park where the Mountaineers are 15-5 this season.
Starting next week with the Big 12 Tournament the stakes double or triple and Snyder will find himself out of the shadows and into the spotlight, for Mazey has decided to start him in the opening game of the Big 12 Tournament next Wednesday.
“I’m getting ready to tell you stuff that he doesn’t even know we think about,” Mazey said after his Mountaineers beat Pitt at PNC Park this week. “We thought about flipping him to a weekend starter. But as soon as you do that, you mess with about two or three different guys’ routines and the number of days of rest. When you get this close to the end with the conference tournament starting on Wednesday, he’s a creature of habit, and he’s routine-oriented.
“Keeping him in his routine is going to keep him pitching as well as he has. If we’d flipped him to the weekend, now all of a sudden you have to flip someone else to the midweek. It’s just pretty much discombobulated at that point.”
There’s nothing worse than a “discombobulated” pitcher.
Snyder wasn’t about to argue with the way Mazey handled him this season.
“It’s important for me to take things one day at a time,” he said. “I am a creature of habit.”
In a way this is a cagey move by Mazey, for not only has Snyder earned the right to take a key spot in the rotation come tournament time when you have to go five deep, but by holding him out of Big 12 play, he becomes a stranger facing conference hitting.
“Really, no Big 12 teams have seen him for an extended period yet,” Mazey pointed out.
And when you are 6-foot-7 and left-handed, you become a difficult puzzle to solve.
Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.