Cal junior left-hander Arman Sabouri leads the Pac-12 in starts with 14 and he is third in the nation in that category. But he is not a starting pitcher.
Sabouri will start Friday's game against No. 2-ranked Stanford to begin that key three-game series in Berkeley. But he is not a starting pitcher.
In his last 11 appearances, including seven as a starter, Sabouri has yielded just one run and has an 0.46 ERA over that stretch. But he is not a starting pitcher.
Just ask him. He admits in the video above that he does not consider himself a starter. He is a reliever who begins the game on the mound.
Cal head coach Mike Neu has only one true starting pitcher, and that's Jared Horn, who will start Saturday's game against the Cardinal. The others who begin games on the mound are considered "openers," a practice that is catching on in the major leagues. Sabouri goes all out for the first two innings and that's it for him. He has gone at least four innings only once this season, when he pitched five innings against LSU.
Sabouri might even start (or open) two games this weekend against Stanford. Earlier this season, he started the first and third games of the Bears' three-game sweep of Long Beach State. He could also come in as reliever on Saturday or Sunday. He has four saves.
Cal head coach Mike Neu notes in a video you can view here that Sabouri is the Bears' best reliever, so they want to maximize his use. By having Sabouri open the game, he is sure to face the opponent's best hitters right off the bat.
The Bears are 17-4 in their last 21 games so they head into the Stanford series with confidence.