Phenomenal, Not Perfect
March 9, 2001
Position: Righthanded Pitcher
Hometown: Ashland, OR
High School: Ashland HS
Stanford Highlights: Has posted a 4-0 record and a 1.15 ERA in his first six starts ... Has won four consecutive starts over Florida State (2/9), at Texas (2/16), at Santa Clara (2/23) and versus California (3/2) ... Won his second big honor of the season earlier this week when he was named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week (3/6) following an impressive performance against California in which he allowed just four hits and an unearned run, while striking out a career-high 10 in a career-high 8.0 innings ... Earned NCBWA National Pitcher of the Week honors (2/13) after holding Florida State scoreless on one hit over the first 7.0 innings of a 6-2 win (2/9), striking out eight ... Has given up just five earned runs and 26 hits in his first 39.0 innings ... Has an opportunity to make a run at the all-time Stanford single-season ERA record of 1.10, set by Harvey Shank in 1968 ... Picked up no-decisions in a pair of impressive starts at Fresno State (1/27) and Cal State Fullerton (2/2).
Jeremy Guthrie has been the unquestionable leader of the phenomenal Stanford pitching staff early the season, a pitching staff that currently has a 2.91 ERA and a pitching staff that has had to deal with the loss of All-Americans Justin Wayne and Jason Young. The staff, led by Friday starter Guthrie, has done more than 'deal with it'. In fact, the staff has improved from last year, dramatically. The 2.91 ERA is more than a full run lower than the 3.95 ERA the 2000 staff posted. A Cardinal staff hasn't finished the season with a lower ERA since the 1973 club posted a 2.64 mark.
'We've had some great pitching staffs here but with the current statistics of Guthrie, Bruksch and Cunningham, they have been as good of a starting trio as we've had,' said Stanford head coach Mark Marquess. 'Remember, we are just over a third of the way finished with the regular season and there's a lot left to go but to date this pitching staff is the primary reason we've been successful the year. Our starting pitching has been phenomenal.'
The most phenomenal thing has been Guthrie's early-season performance or perhaps even his arrival on The Farm. Guthrie didn't even decide to attend Stanford until August of 2000 and hadn't even considered it a realistic possibility before last April. Guthrie, who pitched at BYU as a freshman, was on the tail end of a two-year Mormon mission in Spain when he decided to apply to Stanford. He didn't even any members of the Cardinal coaching staff in person until last August. The normal signing period for his class was about 10 months prior in November of 1999. Guthrie says that he didn't even touch a baseball during his two-year stint in Spain.
Amazingly, he is currently 4-0 with a team-best 1.15 ERA, a mark that could leave him threatening Stanford's single-season ERA record of 1.10 set by Harvey Shank way back in 1968. The accolades for Guthrie are also beginning to pile up. He was named the National Pitcher of the Week by the NCBWA on February 13 after holding Florida State scoreless on only one hit over the first 7.0 innings of a 6-2 Cardinal victory on February 9. Guthrie was then chosen as the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week on March 6 after striking out a career-high 10 while allowing just four hits and an unearned run in a career-high 8.0 innings.
'The type of success that I've had so for this year is unexpected,' admits a humble Guthrie. 'After missing two years of pitching, my expectations were just to come back and get in the groove of things, and hopefully improve enough to be able to contribute a lot next year.'
Guthrie thinks his two-year experience in five different cities in Spain made a big difference in his life. He spent most of his time there sharing his Mormon faith and doing community service.
'We were always looking for opportunities to help someone, really that's what you do each day,' said Guthrie. 'I learned a lot about what I believed and what's important to me -- and that's family, my heavenly father and Jesus. Those are the most important things to me. I also learned to deal with frustration and learned a lot about patience. Being away from normal things like baseball, academics and family, I also learned a lot more gratitude for what I have and just being able to enjoy life.'
Guthrie has carried over his learning to the mound.
'A big difference for me in baseball has been just going out on the mound and enjoying it more,' said Guthrie. 'I don't put as much pressure on myself to be perfect each time I go out.'
Guthrie pitching performances or his life at Stanford haven't been perfect this year, but they've been pretty close. On the mound, he's given up just five earned runs in 39.0 innings of work. Off the field, he is happy with the way things have worked out and gives a lot of credit to the Cardinal coaching staff.
'I couldn't ask for anything more,' emphasized Guthrie. 'The coaching staff has been understanding and supportive of every single thing that I've ever needed or asked of them. I hope to do the same for them and to support them whenever they ask something of me. Everything that I could ever hope for has happened -- the mix between life, schooling, baseball and religion. It's been perfect so far.'
Well, maybe not perfect, there are always those five earned runs. But remember, he has learned not to put that kind of pressure on himself. The pressure seems to all be on opposing hitters.
by Kyle McRae