J.D. Arteaga’s first year at Miami Hurricanes a mixed conclusion

Arteaga's year Miami Hurricanes

Miami, Florida – So concludes Year 1 of J.D. Arteaga’s tenure, the Miami Hurricanes went from getting repeatedly bounced from regionals to not attending. There was a combination of things conspiring against UM. Firstly, the team was very young and inexperienced. 20 of the 35-man roster were new faces and freshmen. Another issue was the pitching. The bullpen struggled throughout the year and Gage Ziehl was the only starter who put up productive numbers. Rafe Schlesinger faded in April and Herick Hernandez achieved success on an inconsistent basis.

Things weren’t helped on the offense either. The loss of Blake Cyr and Jason Torres greatly reduced the output, leaving veteran leader Dorian Gonzalez Jr. and rookie sensation Daniel Cuvet to do a lot of the heavy lifting. Cuvet was hands down the best hitter on the roster, breaking Pat Burrell’s 28-year record for most home runs in a season by a freshman. Elsewhere in the lineup, Jacoby Long put up a decent year while transfer Lucas Costello did not play to expectations. The 2024 edition of the Cardiac Canes ended up being ineffective on the road and mediocre in midweek games, two important indicators of a team’s competitiveness.

A positive start

Similar to previous years, the Hurricanes were given easy opponents the first couple of weekends. Things started off well with a sweep of NJIT followed by a series win over LIU as part of a very long 19-game homestand stretching into mid-March. Little did they know, the sweep over New Jersey was their first and last of the season. The No. 4 ranked Florida Gators presented an early test. It went as expected with the Hurricanes managing a win.

However, there were some signs of potential problems ahead. By this point they dropped a game to Long Island, a team that had no business beating The U coupled with the Canes losing the first two midweek games to UCF and FGCU. Thanks to a late-game rally they avoided an embarrassing loss to Stonehill. They lost to FAU the following week.

These defeats were forgiven when the Hurricanes won against ranked ACC opponents Virginia and North Carolina, UM also walked off FIU in a midweek bounce-back. The Hurricanes were checking in just outside of the Top 25. Around this time within the early stages of a much tougher schedule, things began to go south.

Hope fades

The Gators were the first to truly expose the weaknesses within the bullpen, a shortcoming that became a theme for the rest of the season. Heading into late March Miami dropped the series at Notre Dame, needing to win in extras to avoid being swept. Shortly after their trip to South Bend, the gauntlet resumed facing Clemson, Duke, and Florida State, all highly ranked teams back-to-back-to-back. The Blue Devil series was particularly painful because the Canes lost all three games by one run.

They wouldn’t win another series until May. During this span, the Hurricanes lost both Cyr and Torres in a significant blow. The lofty goal of hosting a regional was gone by the time they reached the backend of the slate. The Cardiac Canes ultimately put together a decent run during May. This enabled them to secure the eleventh seed for the ACC tournament. UM knew if it wanted any chance at going to a regional, they’d have to win out at Charlotte.

Miami surprised observers when they defeated Louisville and then Clemson in thrilling fashion advancing to the semifinals versus Duke. The eventual champions eliminated them.

Final Thoughts

Injury hamstrung the offense. Pitching had a different issue. An important aspect required for getting far into the postseason, the Miami Hurricanes lacked the depth and talent to accomplish any return to the regionals in 2024. The bullpen is an acute example. The ACC tourney showed this.

Once Schlesinger and Ziehl were used, it came down to Hernandez. Fortunately, and to his credit, Hernandez put up his best start of the year holding Duke to a singular run (and hit) through five innings of work. The relievers, unsurprisingly, faltered late. The bats going silent also didn’t help culminating in the 8-2 loss to the Blue Devils.

In sum, the 2024 Miami Mashers were plagued by the three I’s: Inexperience, Injury, and Inconsistency. Despite it being Arteaga’s first season, there were expectations and as such if I had to grade out the performance it’s a C-. They moved the meter slightly with the unexpected run in the conference tournament. There were struggles, there were growing pains. However, there’s hope for next year especially when the Canes reload with more experience and a healthier outlook.

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