Ask the players on the GW baseball team to describe sophomore Robbie Metz and a theme emerges. They all have the same impression of the pitcher/second baseman combo player: he is quiet, dedicated to baseball and really into hunting.
Sophomore catcher Brandon Chapman and sophomore outfielder Matt Cosentino, Metz’s roommates, both laugh at the amount of time he spends watching The Hunting Channel.
“I’m slowly turning into a country boy from Maryland like Metz is,” Cosentino said.
Head coach Gregg Ritchie is also impressed by Metz, but instead by his consistency on the field.
“He doesn’t say a whole lot, but you can bank on him,” Ritchie said. “He is reliable.”
Despite Ritchie’s confidence in Metz’s reliability, last year his consistency was only temporary. After his heavy workload of pitching and playing the field, his arm could not last for the games down the stretch. It will be a test of his development to see if Metz can maintain his spot on the starting rotation through May.
“[I’m] just watching how much I throw throughout the weeks. We would have midweek games [last year] and I would just go out there and throw a lot. I could feel it a little bit on the weekends and everything. Just making sure that I don’t overthrow during the week,” Metz said.
He kicked his rookie campaign off on a strong note. Metz recorded a hit in each of the first 10 games of the season, batting 0.415 with four RBIs and six stolen bases. He was awarded the first A-10 Rookie of the Week award of the year and went on to earn it three more times over the course of the season.
“My expectations were always extremely high in him,” Ritchie said. “Robbie Metz plays the game like a real ball player, it’s somewhat of an old school way that he plays the game with a ‘Charlie Hustle’ mentality and that grit. He doesn’t hold back.”
His dominance continued on the mound in his first start against Georgetown last year. Metz threw five innings of scoreless baseball, recording a no-decision in the early season win. He collected his first win in his second outing against the Hoyas, tossing seven solid innings and only allowing one run. Through the end of March, he looked near-unhittable with a 0.57 ERA in an average of 6.22 innings over five starts.
Metz began to show some fatigue in the beginning of April. In his first start of the month he surrendered his first loss at the hands of Massachusetts giving up five earned runs during only 2.1 innings. Despite a good six-inning outing against Dayton, Metz’ numbers in April dropped to a 5.40 ERA in an average of 4.575 innings over four starts.
Metz said that he wouldn’t feel the workload taking its toll when he was up on the mound, but he was often very sore following games.
“During the game, especially because the adrenaline is pumping and everything, but the day after or two days after you really feel it,” Metz said.
Metz couldn’t get the same amount of rest that another pitcher in need of a break could have because of his constant production in the batter’s box. Over the entire year, Metz was second on the team in batting average (0.306), runs scored (30), and stolen bases (19). Metz also was a solid defensive player for the GW infield recording 41 starts at second and leading the team in infield assists (140) with a 0.978 fielding percentage.
In May, the Colonials experimented with bringing Metz out of the bullpen because, with 40 college games under his belt, his arm was not ready to pitch entire outings. He earned an 8.43 ERA in an average of 2.4 innings over 2 starts and 2 relief appearances during the month.
Metz wanted to make sure that similar fatigue did not set in this season so he made sure he relaxed his arm over the off season. He mostly takes the weeks off from throwing and constantly relaxes his shoulder with foam rollers, bands and lacrosse balls.
“Over the summer I just did a little long toss, didn’t throw too much and didn’t throw bullpens. Sort of took the summer off, but definitely worked hard in the weight room,” he said.
So far this year, Metz and the coaching staff have taken extra caution to make sure that he is able to go deep into the season with the same pitching ability he starts out with. Though he didn’t throw bullpen sessions over the summer, Metz started throwing more when he came back to school to build up his endurance.
Pitching coach Brendan Monaghan said that he talks to Metz about how he is feeling all the time and that constant check-ins will help him make sure the sophomore is not taking on too much over the course of the season.
“The best way to deal with two-way players and to make sure [a burnout] does not happen is having communication between him and the coaches. Monitoring his activity more than any other player is important because of the workload that he takes on,” Monaghan said.
This winter, Metz has found a new appreciation for throwing bullpens and has focused on stretching out before games and practices.
For the upcoming season, he is planning on implementing his improved changeup so that he can finish off batters in more ways and remain less predictable on the mound.
“The changeup is an extra pitch as you face better and better competition that will be imperative,” Ritchie said. “When you’re facing hitters that are OK, [a curveball] gets those guys. But, when you’re facing those really good hitters, that changeup is the equalizer.”
After spending more time enjoying The Hunting Channel than pitching to batters over the off season, Metz is feeling 100 percent and ready to go. If he is able to repeat his performance from the early part of 2015, the Colonials are a step closer to reaching their goal of winning the A-10 championship.