Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Starting job worth the wait for FSU pitcher Fairel

After spending his freshman season in the bullpen, Florida State’s Matt Fairel is 10-2 with a 3.32 ERA over 14 starts.

Florida State

After spending his freshman season in the bullpen, Florida State’s Matt Fairel is 10-2 with a 3.32 ERA over 14 starts.

Florida State left-hander Matt Fairel was, in many ways, your typical freshman last season.

He wanted to start, picking up in Tallahassee where he left off in Winter Haven. But like so many young pitchers, especially at an elite college program, Fairel spent his first year as a reliever.

"That's what keeps you working," he said.

Fairel's decision to embrace whatever role he had, even one that can be somewhat humbling and discouraging, proved to be anything but typical. He gained strength and stamina, added a changeup to complement his 90-plus mph fastball and curve and has emerged as the ace of the staff for FSU, which hosts NCAA region play starting today.

Fairel (10-2 with a 3.32 ERA) is scheduled to start Saturday in a game that will either save the season or allow the Seminoles to seize control of the double-elimination tournament.

"Matt has been a guy who's steadily improved throughout this year," coach Mike Martin said. "He's a heck of a pitcher. He's certainly positioned himself at the top of our rotation. And we know for us to achieve our goal, we've got to have a good outing from him."

"That's something you have to relish," Fairel said. "That's something you have to want, to be the guy out there."

He just had to wait a bit longer than he had hoped.

"Every time out, he got better," FSU pitching coach Jamey Shouppe said. "He probably was one of our better pitchers by the end of the year."

Especially in last season's region tournament. Fairel threw 21/3 perfect innings of relief to get a win against Bethune-Cookman in the opener. He then held Mississippi State in check for four innings before wilting and allowing three runs in the eighth of a 9-4 loss that ended FSU's year.

"That gave me confidence and something to build on," said Fairel, who was 2-0 with one save and a 2.94 ERA in 332/3 innings last season.

He sure did that, which surprised no one. He quickly lived up to the reputation he earned at Winter Haven High of someone who went after it. Every day.

"Matt's always been an extremely competitive baseball player and one of the hardest workers we've got on the team," junior catcher Buster Posey said.

The payoff has been a peppier fastball, better command of the strike zone with three pitches instead of two and a better understanding of what it takes to get a batter out multiple times instead of once.

"You can't rely just on adrenaline (and throw); you have to pitch," he said.

The 6-foot-2, 203-pound draft-eligible sophomore has pitched at least five innings in all 14 starts and leads the team in wins, innings (891/3) and strikeouts (86) to earn second-team All-ACC honors.

Typical turnaround, huh?

"Did we think he was going to be our No. 1 guy? Nah. We couldn't say that," Shouppe said. "But he's earned that right to be our go-to-guy, and he's worked hard to hold that position."

"You have to understand your role," Fairel added. "You just have to excel in that, and doing that (last year) put me in position for the coaches to trust me in a new role this year."

Catcher honored: Posey, the nation's leading hitter at .467, was named the national player of the year by Collegiate Baseball. The junior, among those the Rays are considering with the No. 1 overall pick next week, is the fourth Seminole to win the award following J.D. Drew, former Jesuit High star Shane Robinson and former Bloomingdale High standout Tony Thomas.

Brian Landman can be reached at or (813) 226-3347.

Starting job worth the wait for FSU pitcher Fairel 05/29/08 [Last modified: Monday, June 2, 2008 3:07pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. New Bucs player murals go up at Raymond James Stadium


    Each summer, it's a sign that training camp is soon to arrive at One Buc Place: the changing of the huge player murals on each corner of Raymond James Stadium.

    Bucs linebackers Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander will share a mural on the northeast corner of Raymond James Stadium this season.
  2. Jordan Spieth wins British Open (w/ video)


    SOUTHPORT, England — Someday, perhaps soon, there will be a plaque at Royal Birkdale for Jordan Spieth, much like the one off the 16th hole that celebrates Arnold Palmer and the 6-iron he slashed out of the rough in 1961 to win the British Open and usher in a new era of golf.

    Matt Kuchar plays out of the bunker on the 18th hole and finishes with bogey for 1-under 69. He had a one-shot lead after 13 holes.
  3. Fennelly: Brutal weekend could be start of something worse for Rays

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Well, that was lovely.

    Brad Boxberger suffers his second loss in the three-game series, this time by allowing back-to-back homers in the eighth inning when called on to protect a 5-3 lead. “Just bad pitches,” he says.
  4. Wesley Chapel hockey camp impresses youth players, parents

    Lightning Strikes

    WESLEY CHAPEL — As a 17-year-old Triple-A hockey player, MacCallum Brown regularly plays against elite talent. As a Palm Harbor resident, he often has to travel to face that talent.

  5. Rays journal: Rays gamble on Sergio Romo's track record, heart

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Some of RHP Sergio Romo's numbers this season with the Dodgers were the worst of his career, yet the Rays feel he can be a good fit for their bullpen.

    LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 26:  Sergio Romo #54 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws a pitch in the 9th inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Dodger Stadium on June 26, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)