Depth of pitching staff bodes well for second half of season

Ryan Woodham

Colin Ritsick

Right about this time last year, the wheels fell off Georgia Southern University’s baseball season.

The Eagles lost 19 of their final 25 games, and finished with a sub-.500 record for the first time in Head Coach Rodney Hennon’s career.

The reason that won’t happen this season is the depth of the pitching staff and the emergence of a legitimate bullpen.

It was hard to define a starting rotation last year. The guys that started games also made regular appearances out of the bullpen. Junior LHP Sam Howard and now-graduated RHP Justin Hess started 11 and 13 games in 2013 respectively, but both pitchers appeared 23 times.

There was never a clear weekend rotation that featured three starters and then the bullpen arms – it seemed to be a mystery as to who was going to throw and when. A lot of that had to do with losing starting RHP Will Middour to an elbow injury. Without Middour, the team was forced to go Johnny-wholestaff more often.

Now, with the addition of sophomore RHP Ryan Frederick (3-0) and reigning Southern Conference Pitcher of the Week junior RHP Josh Wirsu (6-2) alongside a healthy Middour (1-1) and Howard (4-3) – there is a set rotation of starters.

With this set rotation comes a defined bullpen.

Sophomore LHP Jason Richman (5-0) has emerged as the Eagles best arm out of the pen. He can come in and switch up the batter’s eye for an inning or he can work as a long-arm that can throw three or more frames if he has to. Richman’s 1.39 ERA is the team’s lowest.

Junior RHP Eric Alonzo (2-3) is having a good year as well. The junior-college transfer did start three games early on in the season, but has been working primarily out of the bullpen as of late. Alonzo has amassed a 2.63 ERA in his 12 appearances and can eat up innings for the Eagles.

Another thing GSU has now that it hasn’t had in a while is a true closer. Senior RHP Matt McCall (1-0) has seven saves and a 3.00 ERA this season.

Having specific roles for the pitchers has fared well for the Eagles – they have the lowest team ERA in the SoCon and an impressive 1.35 WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched).

GSU got off to their best start since 2009, but in order to avoid 2013’s awful finish – the pitching staff needs only to remain healthy.