COLUMBIA – Compared to last year, the Gamecocks baseball team is in a vastly better spot from a pitching depth standpoint, and with that comes the challenge of trying to get all of those guys innings early in the season.
That’s the challenge of head coach Mark Kingston and pitching coach Skylar Meade as they enter the 2020 season campaign with two returners — Carmen Mlodzinski and Brett Kerry — and a newcomer, Brannon Jordan, in the rotation after Jordan beat out a few other arms for that third spot.
“Brannon Jordan pitched real well, especially late in our spring camp,” Kingston said. “He had some moments throughout the fall and spring and we felt he was the best combination of full-go, stuff and talent to give him that first Sunday start.”
Jordan beat out guys like Thomas Farr and Andy Peters, who were both coming off injuries in the fall and working back towards being 100 percent.
Kingston said both Farr and Peters will “most likely be our Tuesday Wednesday guys next week” and are in good shape entering the season with the coaching staff trying to take it slower with those guys.
“They’ve been knocking off some rust but we’ve seen fastballs in the low 90s and those are guys who will be in the mid-to-high 90s as they get completely back. We’re not going to rush them and not going to ask them to do too much too early,” Kingston said. “We all know the second half of the season is much more important than the first half of the season. We just want to make sure when we get to that point those guys are 100 percent and what they are when they’re full go.”
For Farr, he had a hand injury in the fall, which didn’t allow him to pitch, and only made two of his three scheduled starts in the spring with him being extra cautious.
Peters had Tommy John surgery last year and was cleared in January and is still working his way back from that.
Both, when full healthy, are expected to be rotation-level arms.
“They’re special guys when they’re full-go,” Kingston said. “They’re not there yet. We’ll have pitch counts and velocities that aren’t quite where they’re going to be. But those guys will definitely be able to help us.”
The Gamecocks will likely keep guys on pitch counts, especially early in the year with colder temperatures.
Kingston said Danny Lloyd will be the team’s closer entering the season but will have help on the back end with guys like Graham Lawson, Cam Tringali and Parker Coyne.
With Dylan Harley down because of Tommy John surgery, the Gamecocks are down a lefty and will need big innings from the five lefties on the roster currently: John Gilreath, Julian Bosnic, Josiah Sightler, RJ Dantin and Will McGregor.
Gilreath took a leave of absence this spring but recently rejoined the team and Kingston said the junior could see some innings against Holy Cross this weekend.
“I would say John and Bosnic are our two best lefties out of the bullpen and John Gilreath will be available starting this weekend,” Kingston said. “He’s re-acclimated with our team and our team’s welcomed him back with open arms. I think he’s in a good place. He threw a (simulated) game for us the other day against some hitters and looked pretty sharp. He’ll be a factor.”
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