If there is one constant of Mississippi State baseball, it is the fact that Bulldog fans can always anticipate a team that pitches well and fields well. Mississippi State has only strayed from this formula on a small number of occasions, and even when those weren’t the backbone of the team, pitching and fielding was always solid. This is what makes the 2015 season so puzzling.
Mississippi State is doing everything it needs to in the field, but the pitching has not been what we expected. The Bulldogs stats don’t look bad at first glance, but there are some things that are concerning. As a whole, the pitching staff has a 3.80 ERA and opposing hitters are hitting .252 against the Bulldog pitching staff. Those are solid numbers. They aren’t spectacular but they are the types of numbers that will keep the Bulldogs in games.
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If you take out the nonconference games, the numbers look a lot worse. In the Bulldogs 22 nonconference games, the Bulldogs have given up 71 runs. That averages out to 3.22 runs a game. The Bulldogs have played 12 conference games, and in those 12 conference games, the Bulldogs have allowed 73 runs to cross the plate. Giving up 6 runs a game against SEC opponents simply won’t cut it.
The offense picked up some of the slack this past weekend against the Gamecocks. While it was nice to see the bats get hot, expecting that over the course of the remainder of the 2015 season is a stretch. The Bulldogs were not expected to light the world on fire with their bats in 2015. The Mississippi State offense was supposed to be solid, but the pitching is what was supposed to carry the team.
There is no easy fix to this problem. The bullpen has been shaky and the starters are having to pitch well past what they should to make up for the ineffectiveness of the bullpen. Ross Mitchell has struggled, and while that hasn’t helped, no one has stepped up to pick up the slack. For the Bulldogs to become a contender in 2015, the pitching has to come around. Watching the offense come to life this past weekend was fun, but it’s not likely to last. Thompson has worked miracles with this staff before, so we can only hope he has another one up his sleeve.