Previewing the Bullpen


Jun 8, 2013; Charlottesville, VA, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs pitcher Ross Mitchell (48) throws the ball against the Virginia Cavaliers in the seventh inning during the Charlottesville super regional of the 2013 NCAA baseball tournament at Davenport Field. The Bulldogs won 11-6. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier today we previewed the starting rotation, now on to the bullpen.

This was the lynch-pin of State’s 2013 postseason run. While Chad Girodo and Ross Mitchell came in nearly every game for 3+ innings of work, it wasn’t that way the entire year. Remember Kendall Graveman threw three consecutive complete games in SEC play. Expect the starters to go deeper into games this year, but that is no indictment of the ‘pen. These guys are really good. Chad Girodo is the only key member of this group gone from last year.

1. Johnathan Holder – he’s the closer (as we all know) and has been nothing but dominating in his career. The Bulldogs are 88-0 when leading after eight innings over the last two years (h/t Logan Lowery) in large part due to how great he’s been (30 saves, 1.19 ERA). He is arguably the best pitcher of MSU’s staff, period.

2. Ross Mitchell – there should be a picture of Ross in the baseball dictionary under ‘crafty lefty’. He’s doesn’t throw hard (low-80s), wears his socks over his pants, can’t get his hat straight on his head and folks cannot hit him. For his career he is 16-0 with a 1.43 ERA. Last year alone he was 13-0 with a 1.53 ERA. He’s a long guy, pitching 94 innings out of the ‘pen last year. Just a hunch, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he got a look at starting to get a LHP in the weekend rotation.

3. Jacob Lindgren – he hasn’t had a relief appearance since 2012 (16 starts last year) but it appears his move to the ‘pen may be permanent. Lindgren’s ceiling is high but he wasn’t able to harness it last year mostly because of nagging injuries and susceptibility to giving up a big inning. That might be why moving to the bullpen could be a good move – having a lefty down there who can get some outs, and avoid trying to get past that big inning (he would often pitch 4-5 flawless then give up 4-5 runs in one inning).

4. Ben Bracewell – I had Ben listed in the starting rotation but don’t be surprised if he makes a few relief appearances if not a permanent move to the ‘pen at some point in the season. He is one of MSU’s best pitchers so I think he can do either – but the question may be the same as Lingo: the big inning.

5. Preston Brown – here’s a guy who may be poised for a big year. He didn’t see much time as a redshirt freshman but has had a very good preseason.

6. Myles Gentry – Myles has a lot of talent coming in from that three-quarter arm slot. He really came on strong at the end of last year including a great performance in the SEC tournament. He will be put in a lot of key situations as a sophomore.

7. John Marc Shelly – there are a lot of folks excited about what this kid can do. He did not make any appearances in SEC play as a true freshman but did pitch 7.1 innings of scoreless baseball in the non-conference.

8. C.T. Bradford – having a LHP to go to from out in CF will be a huge weapon for Cohen. He will be great for facing lefties and look for him to have an increased role this year with so few southpaws on the team.

9. Will Cox – Will has been mainly a non-conference starter his first two years in maroon and white and he’ll still be looking to break into the rotation, but he’ll likely be looking to earn his keep from the ‘pen.

10. Paul Young – if he can battle back from injury (maybe by SEC play) he could be a real asset – juco transfer.

11. Trevor Fitts – I had Fitts on the starters list as well, and I think he’ll stay there for most if not the entire year. He may not though, and could be an ace in relief.

12. Austin Sexton – another potential starter. He could be a guy who makes a couple of starts in the non-conference but isn’t a part of the SEC roster. He’s a real talent though and could be used in this role.