Well lookie there, Mike Bianco must have heard us. A week after we proposed a drastic shakeup of Ole Miss' starting pitching rotation, it seems Bianco will do just that this weekend against Arkansas. According to Daniel Paulling of The Clarion-Ledger, Brady Bramlett will make his usual Friday start, but it'll be sophomore David Parkinson on Saturday. Sunday is currently TBA.
I jest about the whole listening to us thing, of course. Anyone who's watched this team over the last two weekends (during which Ole Miss lost five of six games to South Carolina and State), knew this shakeup was coming sooner or later.
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Saturday's have been a problem.
Parkinson will be relieving Chad Smith, who's posted an 8.44 ERA over his last three SEC starts, averaging just 3.2 innings per outing. He hit rock bottom in Starkville last Saturday, when he was yanked with one out in the second inning after allowing four runs on five hits. Ole Miss lost both of his last two starts.
It'll be the first career start for Parkinson, but he's proven his value out of the bullpen this season. He carries a 1.40 ERA through 13 appearances, limiting opponents to a .224 batting average. He has a 2.35 ERA in four appearances against SEC teams, his latest a hitless one inning against State last Sunday. Parkinson also had a nice 4.2 innings against South Carolina, scattering five hits and one earned run.
And Sunday hasn't been much better.
Last Sunday was listed as TBA as well, but it ended up being Sean Johnson returning to his usual spot in the rotation. Johnson, who's not entirely recovered from offseason Tommy John, had been struggling with velocity and control and was given a break against South Carolina. The rest didn't do him much good -- he was pulled three innings into last Sunday's game in Starkville.
So I don't expect to see him this Sunday. It's possible Smith slides back into the third starter spot, but I think he could also use a break. Other options include Brady Fiegl (3.00 ERA through 11 relief appearances), Andy Pagnozzi (2.77 ERA through eight appearances, including three starts) and star closer Wyatt Short.
From the the way the coaches have been talking, Short is certainly a possibility.
"Are we afraid to start Wyatt Short? Absolutely not," pitching coach Carl Lafferty told Paulling. "I think he'd be a great starter. But he is so valuable to have when you have a lead and getting those last three outs.
"He's a guy that can throw three times in a weekend and can throw three times back-to-back-to-back for you and does a great job and just has the composure and the experience of closing out games. That's what makes him great. He's so versatile. He can do a lot of things."
The pitching problems over the last couple of weekends have necessitated longer outings from Short, who threw 5.2 innings on Sunday against South Carolina and 4.0 innings on Sunday against State. Lafferty said Short probably would have been limited to 75 pitches last weekend, but that his pitch count will increase over time.
Bianco said that Sunday's starter will "depend on game circumstances." That probably means that he'll use Short out of the bullpen if he needs him on Friday or Saturday. If not, it'll be Short starting Game 3.