Gophers' right-handed junior Brett Schulze's numbers aren't among those of legends. He doesn't hold a sub-1.00 ERA or strike out every batter who squares up on the diamond.
He just wins. In fact, it's not so much that he wins — he just doesn't lose.
"It's kind of ridiculous when you think about it, especially as a reliever," said Schulze, who hasn't tallied a loss on the mound in 44 appearances. "A lot of that's just happenstance. A couple times, especially last year, I threw a good amount of innings and we ended up winning, but most of the time it's just I happen to be on the mound when we score runs."
Schulze has quietly posted 14-straight wins on the mound without a loss — a feat that hasn't been accomplished by any other Gophers pitcher in the 143-year history of Minnesota baseball. He went 9-0 last season as he morphed into a relief pitcher after being a starter during his freshman season, and he's gone 5-0 so far this season, coming in at the closing role with five saves.
Schulze, a Maple Grove, Minnesota native, has never been recognized with national awards or pre-season All-American honors. The only time he's been recognized is when he won Big Ten Freshman of the Week in 2017. He's flown under the radar as one of the top Gophers pitchers in the past two seasons.
If Schulze's career ended right now, he would be third all-time in winning percentage out of Gophers pitchers with an 18-3 career record. It puts him above Minnesota baseball legends like Dave Winfield (19-4, No. 6) and Glen Perkins (19-5, No. 10). The No. 1 winning percentage in the history of Gophers baseball is held by Dan Morgan, the great submarine pitcher who tallied a 22-2 record from 1975-77. Morgan held the Gophers' winning streak with 12 consecutive wins before Schulze broke it this season.
"I don't really think about it. I think if I were to start thinking about it, I might get too tight," Schulze said when asked his thoughts about the historic winning percentage. "It's just the role I have. Whether we end up winning or losing, that's kind of out of my control. I just got to do what I can do."
His last loss on the mound came on May 19, 2017 in a 11-1 loss to Purdue, back when he was a starting freshman. He moved into a long-relief pitching role last season before becoming a closing pitcher for the Gophers, and he leads the team currently with five saves. His ERA has dropped since he held a 5.50 ERA as a first-year starter, and Schulze said moving to the bullpen was a good move for him.
"[You] don't have time to think as much, you just go right after hitters," Schulze said about the benefits of pitching out of the bullpen. "It's about the coaches putting me in a good position to succeed, as well as myself growing and maturing as a player."
Former closer and current teammate Max Meyer said that he and the team have a lot of confidence in him. No matter the situation, Meyer said he is ready to go for the team.
"Brett's so [good] with just going in and pounding the zone," Meyer said. "When he's coming out of the bullpen he's pretty much automatic."
Schulze's 2.86 ERA is second on the team out of those who have pitched over 25 innings, just behind his catch partner Meyer.
"The bullpen mentality is just going in there and throwing as hard as you can for a couple innings," Meyer said. "And starting, [Schulze] said, you got to conserve your energy a little bit."