"A little nail-biting for me, but any situation like that you're in is something to be excited about," Piche said.
Piche, a right-handed pitcher, transferred to Kansas after two seasons at Indian Hills Community College, where he went 9-4 with a 2.66 ERA as a sophomore in 14 starts with a 0.94 WHIP and 8.69 strikeouts per nine innings. At Kansas, Piche burst onto the scene with a monster junior season, settling in as the Jayhawk closer and posting a 6-4 record and 12 saves to go with a 1.68 ERA.
Piche was named the 2013 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year and was selected to the All-Big 12 first-team.
"It was a fun season, it was a fun transition season for me," Piche said. "That level of baseball, from junior college to D1 is a big jump. For me, I liked that challenge and like throwing against that caliber of hitting. … I think that competition level really helped me get that jump that I needed to play at that level."
In 2014, Piche could not find the groove that worked for him the season before. Piche's struggles stood out, including a 3 2/3-inning, seven-hit, four-run performance against Northwestern and a one-inning, five-hit, five-run outing against New Mexico.
"It's just one of those things, you can't explain it and just call it baseball," Piche said. "You're making pitches, you're throwing strikes and they're just somehow hitting it. You don't quite know what's going on, and it's something you have to shake off as a pitcher and keep pitching and keep going."
Everything changed, though, when Kansas No. 1 starter -- and fifth-round Rangers selection -- Wes Benjamin went down with a UCL injury. Piche assumed the No. 1 role, beginning with an April 4 start against Kansas State. Piche said he was initially shocked when he was moved to the top of the rotation
"It was an eye-opening experience for me when I heard that's what we were going to do and make that switch," he said. "At that point, I just wanted to put my team in the best position to win. Hopefully, I did. I think that transition was good for me and the team."
In his first three starts, Piche went a combined 17 innings, allowing 17 runs on 28 hits. But in his next two starts, Piche tossed back-to-back complete games, yielding just one earned run in 18 innings.
"Once I went into that starting role, I really felt like I settled in and got more innings at a time starting wise, and settled in and found that arm slot that was effective like it was last year," Piche said.
The 6-foot-1, 180-pounder developed a changeup as a starter to pair with a fastball that has touched 93 mph and a slider.
Piche said he was talking with the Angels today about his summer plans and whether he would be in the bullpen or a starter.
Piche said once he moved into the starting role, he found his perfect arm slot (close to three-quarters) and began to set up hitters instead of going right after them.
"You're going to see them three or four times and game instead of once a game on the back end," Piche said. "You really have to pitch within yourself and hit your spots, hit your locations and set them up to fly out or strike out."