Bullpen impressive in postseason, a look at potential Texas Tech starter

Florida State’s bullpen was one of the team’s biggest question marks in the regular season, a group that was a reflection of the team: some positives, some negatives and overall inconsistent.

But the Seminoles’ bullpen has been one of the main reasons for the team’s postseason success. In seven games during the NCAA Tournament, FSU’s bullpen ERA is just 0.85. Compare that to a 4.93 ERA in the regular season.

Take a look at some of the numbers from FSU’s NCAA postseason:

Innings – 21.1

Earned runs – 2 (both were from FSU’s regional opener against Florida Atlantic)

Hits – 8

Strikeouts – 23

Walks – 2

FSU coach Mike Martin has shortened the bullpen in the postseason, leaning on the likes of right-handers Chase Haney and J.C. Flowers as well as left-handers Antonio Velez, Jonah Scolaro and Clayton Kwiatkowski. Haney has made four appearances and not allowed an earned run in 5.1 innings. Velez allowed two earned runs back on May 31 but picked up both wins at LSU and has been reliable. Flowers has a pair of saves.

Take a look at the ERAs of five pitchers from the regular season who have delivered as relievers in the postseason:

Flowers – 1.59

Haney – 3.00

Kwiatkowski – 4.11

Velez – 4.84

Scolaro – 5.00

Grady rested for his start: FSU didn’t go to a Game 3 of the Super Regionals and didn’t need to use Conor Grady. The sophomore right-hander has not pitched since his seven-inning outing in the third game of the Athens (Ga.) Regional that helped the Seminoles clinch the title.

Grady has only started seven games in 2019, but experience against Florida as well as the Bulldogs should help him. In an April home game against the Gators, he didn’t allow an earned run in seven innings. He had a few short starts in the next few months, including a forgettable one-inning start where he allowed four runs early at Louisville.

But Grady is clearly the best option for FSU in Game 3 on Wednesday against Texas Tech at 7 p.m. (ESPN).

“What a stage it was for him to display his talent,” FSU coach Mike Martin said of Grady after the regional win.

Looking ahead to Texas Tech: The Red Raiders have not announced a starting pitcher for Wednesday’s game against FSU. But they will likely go with sophomore right-hander Bryce Bonnin, who started Game 3 of the regionals and Game 3 of the Super Regionals.

Bonnin is 6-2 with a 4.42 ERA. He tossed seven shutout innings to help Texas Tech clinch the regional with a win over Dallas Baptist. But he only lasted 4.1 innings, allowing three runs, but didn’t factor in the decision as the Red Raiders defeated Oklahoma State in the Super Regional.

Despite losing Game 1 of the CWS, Texas Tech has a relatively rested pitching staff. With the exception of Game 2 starter Caleb Killian, the Red Raiders used most of their arms for short relief appearances in the first two games. Even standout right-hander Micah Dallas, who threw just three innings as the Game 1 starter on Saturday, could be used on Wednesday in relief.

Texas Tech’s staff ERA is 3.00 in eight NCAA Tournament games.

One good sign for FSU is that Texas Tech relies on right-handers. The top left-hander is reliever Dane Haveman (2-1, 2.66 ERA), who has made short, middle-relief outings in the first two CWS games. Many of FSU’s top hitters are left-handed – notably the Nos. 2-4 hitters in Reese Albert, Drew Mendoza and Robby Martin – and they were neutralized by Michigan left-hander Tommy Henry on Monday.

Rain alters CWS schedule: The Tuesday afternoon game between Auburn and Louisville was delayed due to rain and will resume on Wednesday at noon. Vanderbilt-Mississippi State will follow. FSU and Texas Tech should keep the 7 p.m. ET spot, weather permitting.



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