Sophomore pitchers Eric and Patrick Peterson may be twins, but it’s hard to confuse the two on the diamond. Their styles are anything but identical.
In their second season with Temple (8-11, 1-2 Atlantic 10 Conference), the two have solidified themselves in coach Ryan Wheeler’s starting rotation; Patrick as a left-handed pitcher and Eric as a right-handed pitcher.
“[Eric Peterson and Patrick Peterson] both have good stuff and they are quality arms,” Wheeler said. “I think the team feels good when either one of them is on the field.”
While Patrick entered the 2013 season as a starter in the Owls’ rotation, Eric was expected to be used primarily as a reliever in the back end of games.
“I think last year I proved myself that I could be a starter in this rotation,” Patrick said. “I came in this season, had a few good starts and I believe I have proved myself [to the coaches] that way.”
Although he believed he was capable of being an immediate impact starter in the Temple rotation, Eric opened the season as a relief pitcher, a position he said he was never quite satisfied with.
“The coaches have us throwing 70-80 pitch bullpens in case anything were to change so I believe I was prepared from the start to be in the rotation,” Eric said. “I prefer to go out there and start because I like the game to be in my hands. I want to go out there and take control of the game from the beginning.”
With a fastball, curveball and a newly developed changeup this season, Eric had the potential to be the guy in the back of the bullpen who can close down a game, but because many times the team is not getting to that point in games, Wheeler said he made the decision to move Eric into the rotation.
“At first we thought [Eric] was going to be a closer,” senior leftfielder Allen Stiles said. “I don’t think he was necessarily happy with that but he wanted to do whatever he could to help the team. He has proved he could do what he needed to do and has always put us in a position to win.”
Eric is listed as 6 foot, 4 inches and weighs 215 pounds, while Patrick is listed as 6 foot, 3 inches, weighing 190 pounds.
“We are both two completely different pitchers,” Eric said. “[Patrick’s] best pitch is his changeup, while my best pitch is my curveball. He also throws left-handed, which makes us completely different.”
In Patrick’s eyes, being compared to twin brother Eric is more of an insult than a compliment, he said, jokingly.
“I do not compare myself to my brother at all,” Patrick said. “I don’t want to ever compare myself to him.”
In their freshman seasons in 2012, the Peterson brothers did not compare very evenly on the statistics sheet. In 17 appearances (three starts), Eric compiled a 1-1 record with a 5.29 ERA in 49.1 innings pitched. The right-handed pitcher allowed 29 earned runs and 54 hits while recording 19 walks and 35 strikeouts. As for Patrick, he earned a 3-4 record in 15 appearances (13 starts) with a 3.51 ERA in 2012. The left-handed pitcher allowed 33 earned runs and 74 hits in 84.2 innings pitched. While Patrick allowed 28 walks, he also led the Owls in strikeouts with 68 a year ago.
“I think [Eric and Patrick] both have the chance to be very good college pitchers and maybe play beyond college,” pitching coach Brian Pugh said. “They have the potential to be a really good one-two punch for the next three years and we are excited about that, especially as they continue to develop and mature even more on the mental side of things. I think if they increase their understanding of how to pitch, the future is very bright for them.”
Patrick has been inconsistent recently, Wheeler said. Eric is still a work in progress as he is still adjusting to the starting rotation, Pugh said.
“I think they are both young men that can put themselves on the radar for some major league scouts,” Wheeler said. “But right now they are just above average pitchers at the college level and if they want to go to the next level they are going to have to be great pitchers. They are going to have some bad innings and they are going to get hit. They have got to be able to settle in and just pitch and that is what will take them to the next level to be a great pitcher.”
This season as starting pitchers, Eric and Patrick have been two of the strongest members of the Temple starting rotation as their statistics show. Patrick leads all Owls’ starters with five starts and has compiled a 1-3 record with a 5.33 ERA. The left-handed pitcher also leads Temple with 25.1 innings pitched, allowing 23 hits while recording 12 walks and 22 strikeouts.
“I am by far,” Patrick said with a smile when asked which sibling is the better pitcher. “Overall, I am just better than [Eric].”
“It’s probably me,” Eric said. “At this point right now, I would say I am definitely better than he is, although I know he will disagree with me.”
In six appearances this season – three starts – Eric has earned a 2-0 record with a 2.96 ERA. In 24.1 innings of work, the right-handed pitcher has allowed 16 hits and eight earned runs while recording six walks and a team high 23 strikeouts.
Regardless of who is the better pitcher, Wheeler has expressed the importance of having the two in the rotation, as they are expected to bring a solid performance with each start.
“They both bring a tremendous amount of confidence to the table whenever they are out on the mound,” Wheeler said. “To be honest, without Eric and Patrick right now, I don’t know that we would be in some of these ball games the way we are.”
John Murrow can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @JohnMurrow12.