Over the past few weeks, we have taken a look at the non-conference schedule, the infield and the outfield. Now we’re going to take a look at the starting rotation. We’ll start with the only for sure starter.
|Caleb Kilian (Jr.)|
|3.24 ERA, 11 starts, 63 Ks, .222 BAVG|
Last Year: The two obvious starters last year were Steven Gingery and Davis Martin. With an explosive offense and two of the best pitchers in college baseball, Tech looked destined to return to Omaha. Unfortunately, these two were not as dominant as expect. Gingery only pitched three innings due to injury, and Martin was a mystery for a lot of the year. Kilian, whom Tadlock raved about his stuff as a reliever last year, finally got the opportunity to start and made the most of it. He was a first team pitcher, and was drafted as a draft eligible sophomore. Lucky for Red Raider fans, he didn’t get drafted high enough and returned to school to improve his draft stock.
My Prediction: Caleb Kilian takes over as the Friday night starter.
This Year: Now the stats above are a little inflated because his last two games pitched were not good, but Kilian was a sub-3.00 ERA pitcher for a vast majority of the year. If I remember correctly, he had a fastball around the low 90’s that tops off around 95 mph, and a curveball around the low 70’s. This is his last year before losing the “return to school” card in the draft, so I expect the most out of Kilian this season. Hopefully the baseball gods won’t let us lose our ace two years in a row.
|John McMillon (Jr.)||Bryce Bonnin (So.)||Mason Montgomery (Fr.)||Micah Dallas (Fr.)|
|4.02 ERA, 12 starts, 73 K’s, 47 BB’s, .268 BAVG||Transfer from Arkansas; 4.26 ERA, 21 apps, 16 K’s, 12 BB’s, .254 BAVG||Freshman from Leander HS||Freshman from Aubrey, TX (Home School)|
Last Year: Since there are so many pitchers that can pitch in multiple spots, I’m going to list the ones I think will be a starter above, then list a majority of the rest after that. The other starters at the beginning of last year weren’t really the starters at the end of the season. Some of it was due to injury (Erikson Lanning). Others was due to ineffectiveness (John McMillon. In the end, they decided on Ryan Shetter, who technically didn’t start but pitched a majority of the innings in Dylan Dusek’s appearances.
My Prediction: John McMillon and Bryce Bonnin become the Saturday and Sunday starters. Micah Dallas and Mason Montgomery.
This Year: I went back in forth on this, with several guys fitting into starting spots and switching the order often. I also included Erikson Lanning and Jake McDonald here at one point. For the position players, I felt pretty confident who the starter was or could be, while for the starting pitchers, I really don’t feel confident outside of Kilian and McMillon. The Whammer can throw 99 mph and has an unique talent, so I think Tadlock wants to give him another shot here. Bryce Bonnin, who was drafted in the 26th round in 2017, is an immediate eligible Arkansas transfer who throws a mid-90’s fastball, although I haven’t seen him pitch yet so I’m taking a stab in the dark here. Mason Montgomery and Micah Dallas are two freshmen who have stuff and did pretty well during the fall scrimmages. Tadlock has started plenty of freshmen pitchers in the past, so this is by no means a stretch.
|Erikson Lanning (RS-Jr.)||Connor Queen (Jr.)||Dane Haveman (Jr.)||Taylor Floyd (Jr.)||Jake McDonald (RS-So.)||Caleb Freeman (So.)||Kurt Wilson (So.)|
|6.75 ERA, 2 starts, .304 BAVG||4.20 ERA, 18 apps, 11 K’s, 17 BB’s, .259 BAVG||11.12 ERA, 14 apps, 14 K’s, 13 BB’s, .279 BAVG||JUCO from Grayson CC||Injured last season||5.18 ERA, 22 apps, 31 K’s, 18 BB’s, .276 BAVG||8.10 ERA, 17 apps, 17 K’s, 19 BB’s, .255 BAVG|
Last Year: There are way too many people on the roster for me to list everyone, so I just tired to lower the names down the seven. Typically, the best relievers during Tadlock’s time come from JUCO newcomers (Jonny Drozd, Hayden Howard, Jose Quezada), freshmen who couldn’t find a starting spot (Parker Mushinski, Jacob Patterson) or didn’t do well enough as a starter and needed a change (Ty Harpenau). Last year, the go to guys in the postseason were Ty Harpenau, Jose Quezada and technically a starter, but not really Dylan Dusek. As typical of a good college teams, you have to find new relievers every season.
My Prediction: Erikson Lanning takes over the super reliever role, with Caleb Freeman becoming the other huge bullpen piece. Could also see Jake McDonald, Taylor Floyd and Kurt Wilson see serious relief appearances.
This Year: If you look at the bullpen differences between Tadlock’s College World Series teams and his teams that didn’t make it, the ones who made it had a for sure, go-to reliever. This is very similar how Terry Francona uses Andrews Miller for the Cleveland Indians, where whenever the most important moment comes up, he comes in the game. In 2014 we had Jonny Drodz, in 2016 we had Hayden Howard, and last year we had Ty Harpenau.
This year, I think it will be Lanning. He had one of the key postseason performances against ECU in a series finale in 2016, and dominated to give Tech a ticket to the CWS. Tadlock trusts him a lot, naming him a starter the past two seasons, and I believe he’ll trust him again in this role. Freeman (and his mustache) was effective for a lot of last year and saw some time at the CWS. He’s a year older and should be better this year. Jake McDonald and Kurt Wilson have stuff, but the question will be how effective will they be at getting outs this season. Taylor Floyd in a newcomer from Grayson CC who has some stuff.