STARKVILLE – Mississippi State has arguably the best bullpen in college baseball this year, but the MSU starting pitching has been nothing short of bad lately.
Saturday starter Will Bednar has been fine outside of the Ole Miss game three weeks ago, but Christian MacLeod and Jackson Fristoe have not been carrying their weight.
MacLeod looked sharp to start SEC play seven weeks ago, but he has slowly given Mississippi State worse and worse outings as the conference schedule moves along.
He has not pitched over five innings in any of the last three weeks, with his best outing coming against Ole Miss where he allowed two runs in five innings.
Against Vanderbilt, he pitched 3 2/3 innings and allowed four runs. Against Texas A&M last Friday, he made it only 4 innings before giving up a season-high seven hits and three runs.
MacLeod has been really successful the first time through the lineup, but he always seems to find trouble around the fourth inning or the second time through a lineup.
In 11 appearances this year, MacLeod has only pitched longer than four innings five times. He has three appearances where he hasn’t made it to four complete innings.
Fristoe has also really struggled with both length of outings and earned runs.
Fristoe has only pitched over four innings twice in his last eight outings, and he has given up 20 earned runs in 24 2/3 SEC innings.
That’s simply not good.
Mississippi State, however, has been able to overcome the poor starts because of the depth of the bullpen. The Bulldogs have 20 pitchers in their bullpen that head coach Chris Lemonis can throw out there at any given time.
And we’ve seen him do just that.
Against Texas A&M this past weekend, the bullpen threw 19 of the 30 innings MSU played on Friday night and Saturday.
Against Vanderbilt, the bullpen threw 14 of the 27 innings that were played.
That works in the SEC’s three-game weekend series.
But when the postseason comes and MSU is playing four or five days in a row and using bullpen guys as extra starters on those days, the rest of the bullpen can get depleted really quick if MacLeod and Fristoe get pulled in the fourth inning.
As of last weekend, there had been no talks of making any changes in the starting rotation, but there are options if Lemonis chooses to do so in the future.
If that becomes something Lemonis pursues, there are options with Houston Harding, Brandon Smith or Preston Johnson to start, and there’s also Mikey Tepper or Carlisle Koestler who could throw a few innings if needed.