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Pitching in Tempe

by ElvisHog on June 1, 2011

Oh the woes of managing a pitching staff during a tournament. It has to be one of the hardest things to do as a baseball coach. The choice is either the right one with little fanfare, or it’s the wrong one…providing plenty of WTF for fans. This is what Dave Van Horn is facing with the trip to Tempe for the Arizona State regional.

Option 1:
The most straightforward choice is to run D.J. Baxendale out there in the first game. He’s the staff ace and provides the best chance of winning the first game.

Option 2:
Save Bax for game two and figure out who to start instead. Fant, Moore, or Stanek.

The main problem that comes up with option 1 is…do we really need to throw our ace to beat Charlotte? According to their website, they have the 3rd best ERA in the country this year so it is likely that it will be a low scoring game. Throwing Bax is the safest solution.

The flip side of the argument is to throw one of the other guys so Bax is available for game 2, undoubtedly against Arizona State. CarolinasHog in the thread where all of this was gleaned said:

A number of NCAA baseball coaches take the strategy that game #2 is more important. In a 4 team, double-elimination format I tend to agree.

The thinking is Game 2 is either to go up 2-0 or just to keep playing. Being up 2-0 is a huge advantage in double elimination. The later scenario goes without saying. Also if you assume a team is going to go 1-1 in their first two games, they still have to play a total of 3 games to get to the championship game regardless of winning the first or second game.

I tend to agree with this strategy as it seems we would need Baxendale to throw a great game against ASU at some point in the series. He went 6 1/3 against them in the 7-5 loss to end last year, only giving up one run (unearned), four hits, and four strikeouts.

At any rate, Van Horn has stated that he’s going with Baxendale against Charlotte. The best case scenario is that we jump out to an early lead and we sub someone for him so he can rest for another appearance.

…and hope that whoever pitches game 2 will have an outing like Moore had in the opening game against Alabama instead of not making it out of the first inning like Fant, giving up five runs and only getting two outs.


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

CharlieHog June 2, 2011 at 10:10 am

Let’s say we throw Fant and lose to Charlotte, who has a pretty good team. Then we face the 4 seed, and we can’t waste Bax there, so we throw Stanek. Meanwhile it’s 100 degrees in Arizona and we’re running through our bullpen. We beat the 4 seed and have to play Arizona State. We throw Bax and let’s say we win. Then we have to beat Arizona State again, but our pitching staff is depleted.

I’ve gone back and forth on this and I think in the 2-3 matchup you have to throw your ace and give getting into the winners bracket your best shot.

CharlieHog June 2, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Looks like DVH read your article. :)

ElvisHog June 2, 2011 at 6:02 pm


Your scenario up there is a tough one. It would be awful to go home without throwing Bax a single time. That would cause much discussion.

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