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How does Texas pitcher Pete Hansen stack up against the Big 12's recent best in baseball?

Danny Davis
Austin American-Statesman
Pete Hansen throws a pitch to an Alabama batter during the Longhorns' 1-0 win in late February at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. Hansen, who was the Big 12's preseason pitcher of the year, is off to a solid start in conference play.

Before this season started, Texas left-hander Pete Hansen had never thrown a pitch against Oklahoma, Baylor or Kansas.

That's 37.5% of the teams that Texas competes against in the Big 12. Another 37.5% of UT's Big 12 foes — Texas Tech, Kansas State and Oklahoma State — had only ever seen Hansen pitch out of the bullpen.

Yet when the Big 12 released its preseason honor roll back in January, Hansen was its preseason pitcher of the year. And it turns out the conference's coaches know what they are talking about.

Through three conference starts, Hansen has dazzled. Texas' third-year ace has worked 24 innings against rival Oklahoma and ranked Texas Tech and TCU teams. In those three starts, he's 2-0 with 31 strikeouts and three walks. He has allowed just four earned runs and seven hits.

Texas pitcher Pete Hansen reacts after striking out a West Virginia batter to end the inning during last year's Big 12 Tournament. This year, Hansen has thrived in UT's Friday night role. "He's that Friday night guy that you know when you send him out there, he gives you a good chance," Texas coach David Pierce said. "He's confident, he's throwing all his pitches for strikes and then throwing good misses."

In a two-hit shutout of No. 23 TCU on April 8, Hansen registered 12 strikeouts in the first complete game of his career. For his efforts, he was named the Big 12's pitcher of the week and the recipient of the Golden Spikes performance of the week award.

"I tell him, I don't even know why I go out there half the time. What do you need me out there, you know you're striking everybody out," UT first baseman Ivan Melendez said. "His command is just great. He always gives us a chance."

More:Texas pitcher Pete Hansen discusses preseason hype, personal growth and 1983 comparisons

Just how good has Hansen been in Big 12 play? Just compare and contrast his first three starts against the first three conference starts of the last 10 players who won the Big 12 pitcher of the year award.

Only three of those pitchers had a better ERA than Hansen's over their first three starts. His 24 innings were bested only by Oklahoma State's 26 in 2012. None of those past 10 pitchers of the year had fewer walks than Hansen does, nor did any have more strikeouts. His seven hits allowed also is the low number in that group.

Now how do Hansen's first three conference starts measure up against the seven Longhorns who have ended up being the Big 12 pitcher of the year, which has been awarded since 2001?

Hansen leads his UT predecessors in innings pitched, hits allowed and strikeouts. Like Ty Madden (2021), Taylor Jungmann (2011), Adrian Alaniz (2007) and Kyle McCulloch (2006), Hansen has posted an ERA under 2.00 so far.

For the entire season, Hansen is 6-0 with a 2.08 ERA. Next up for Hansen and No. 7 Texas (25-10, 5-4 Big 12) is a trip to Kansas State.

More:Looking to avoid a midweek stumble, No. 7 Texas beats up on Stephen F. Austin

Due to the holiday weekend, the start date of this three-game series has been bumped up a day to Thursday. Hansen typically starts on Fridays, but he'll go on Thursday. Texas coach David Pierce said Hansen was given the option of sticking with his schedule or being the team's opener against the Wildcats. He chose the latter.

"He's that Friday night guy that you know when you send him out there, he gives you a good chance," Pierce said. "He's confident, he's throwing all his pitches for strikes and then throwing good misses."

Last season, Hansen threw just an inning of relief in a 9-2 win over Kansas State. This season, he'll start against a KSU team that's 15-16. The Wildcats have dropped eight of their nine games in Big 12 play. 

Texas at Kansas State

Thursday-Saturday, Manhattan, Kan., ESPN+, 104.9

Thursday (6 p.m.) — UT LHP Pete Hansen (6-0, 2.08) vs. KSU RHP Griffin Hassall (3-4, 4.25); Friday (6 p.m.) — UT RHP Tristan Stevens (4-3, 4.15) vs. KSU RHP Blake Adams (3-4, 4.12); Saturday (4 p.m.) — UT LHP Lucas Gordon (2-1, 2.63) vs. KSU RHP Connor McCullough (3-1, 3.66)