Beesball is starting back tomorrow! That means our Beesball preview will be coming to a close today with our preview of Beesball's pitching staff. So let's take a look at what we'll be dealing with in the pitching staff.
Having three upperclassmen with starting experience while also having a ton of good young pitching is a great problem to have. In an interview with RamblinWreck.com, pitching coach Jason Howell talked some about the experience in our rotation. The three names mentioned in the article are senior left-handed pitcher Devin Stanton, junior LHP Jonathan King and senior right-handed pitcher Cole Pitts.
At least to begin this season, I fully expect the weekend rotation to look something like that. Tech tried to do that last year before King and Pitts both suffered season-ending injuries. In their combined starts prior to injury, both King and Pitts pitched pretty well, with King being the superior. King went 2-0 with a 1.96 ERA and an impressive opposing batting average of .203.
Pitts was pretty solid too. He went 1-0 with 3.18 ERA with an opposing batting average a little less impressive than King's at only .239.
Stanton is the true ace of this staff, though. The senior lefty started out and spent a good deal of time in the bullpen last season before being forced to move to the rotation. But when he moved to the rotation, he pitched extremely well. He appeared in 18 games, starting 12 of them, and finished with a 5-3 record and 2.24 ERA.
With these three guys and all the guys I'm talking about in the next section, Tech's weekend rotation is in good hands.
Projected weekend rotation: Devin Stanton, Jonathan King and Cole Pitts
This spot is really up in the air right now. Right now, I see four guys in contention for this spot: sophomore LHP Ben Parr, sophomore RHP Zac Ryan, sophomore LHP Tanner Shelton and freshman LHP Daniel Gooden.
Based off of last season, Parr has to be the frontrunner. In his 18 appearances (10 starts), Parr pitched to a 5-4 record and a ridiculous 2.62 ERA. His .263 opposing batting average could use a little bit of work, but I think he's still the best guy for the job.
After him, the other three all have the same shot of starting. Zac Ryan started off last season as the midweek starter before being moved to the bullpen for the majority of the season where he was a much better fit with what pitching coach Jason Howell describes in that aforementioned article as an "electric arm."
Tanner Shelton also performed admirably for a freshman last season. He started two games for the Jackets against Western Carolina and Kennesaw State. In those games he went 9.1 total innings and had two no-decisions
Daniel Gooden is a bit of a wildcard here. From what I've been reading, he's currently injured so he probably won't be a factor for the first part of the season, but he could definitely be a major contributor later in the season when fully recovered.
I think Danny Hall elects to have a couple options here.
Projected midweek starters: Ben Parr and Tanner Shelton
And this is where things get interesting. After last season, Tech lost two great closers in "Trusty" Dusty Isaacs and Sam Clay. This season, we have a few options in replacing him: sophomore RHP Zac Ryan, sophomore RHP Ben Schniederjans, sophomore LHP Tanner Shelton and sophomore RHP Matthew Gorst.
I would say that right now, Zac Ryan is the favorite for this spot. He could start in a pinch or even do a multi-inning save, but with his electric arm, he'll be a key cog in the bullpen. Of his 16 appearances last season, 12 of those came out of the bullpen.
The next option here is an intriguing option: Ben Scniederjans. He walked on with Tech last season and pitched pretty well. His 5.40 ERA doesn't reflect that, but the fact that seven of his 13 appearances were scoreless does reflect that. If he can maintain some consistency, he will definitely be in contention for the closer's spot.
Matthew Gorst is probably the next best option here, but I think there's a dropoff here after Ryan and Schniederjans. Gorst had a lot of control issues walking six more batters than he struck out (22 and 16 respectively).
Shelton also wasn't overly impressive. He was able to strike out one more batter than he walked (14 and 13). He also gave up 10 runs in 15.2 innings. His .295 opposing batting average was also nothing to write home about.
I think Danny Hall will probably go closer by committee at least to begin the season. But if someone steps up and runs away with it, they should gain the spot (and quite possibly for the next three seasons).
Projected closer committee: Zac Ryan and Ben Schniederjans
What are your projections for the pitching staff? Who starts, who closes? Will any of the freshmen play a role?
EDIT: So, not long after this story was posted, the starting rotation for this weekend was announced. Because Ben Parr will be in the weekend rotation, I think Tanner Shelton (and possibly Ben Schniederjans) will be the midweek starter(s). Cole Pitt could also do that when he returns to full health.