“Where are you?! And I’m so sorry. I cannot sleep, I cannot dream tonight. I need somebody and always, this sick strange darkness, comes creeping on so haunting every time.”
— “I Miss You,” Blink-182
— also me looking at basketball season waiting for baseball
Welcome! This is a baseball blog where we talk about baseball and nothing else. We’re not in denial about shooty-hoops. You are.
Anyway, as a baseball blog, we talk about baseball things, and that includes pitching rotations. This is a fun endeavor due to the fact Ole Miss’ weekend rotation is, at least on paper, v good and not at all bad. Doug Nikhazy, Gunnar Hoglund and Derek Diamond make up one of the best arm arsenals in the country, and I’ve decided to remind you of how good they were last season before the campaign was cut short due to COVID-19. What follows is a statistical account that is pure numbers and analysis, such as “Doug Nikhazy has cool hair” and “Gunnar Hoglund turned down millions of dollars to play at Ole Miss and we are all very thankful” and the like.
Here’s how the Ole Miss weekend hurlers were riding when last year screeched to a halt.
Friday — Doug Nikhazy, LHP
Our flowing-haired son has been an icon since he stepped onto campus in Oxford and for good reason. As a sophomore in 2020, Nikhazy posted a 2.35 ERA in 23 innings pitched, including a matchup against then-No. 1 Louisville that resulted in Ole Miss’ only loss of the year. Doug no-hit Xavier through six complete and struck out nine and did the same feat against Princeton, striking out 12. Even those Ivy League grads can figure out that those numbers are good for Ole Miss and bad for their team. With me having graduated from academically-superior Ole Miss, I can also confirm.
Anyway, Nikhazy was cooking early-on last season and will be the anchor of this rotation on Friday nights in 2021, and he should once again be that without much pressure on his shoulders because of who he knows is taking the hill on Saturday and Sunday behind him. Which leads me to...
Saturday — Gunnar Hoglund, RHP
Take a look at this piece of journalism from a strong reporting organization that goes into detail about how Hoglund came to play at the University of Mississippi. You read that right. Hoglund’s slot value when he was drafted was $1,967,900 which, I’m told, is a lot. Understandably, this can add a lot of pressure to a young pitcher’s shoulders when he steps onto a college campus and is immediately expected to be elite, but he took a big step in that direction last season, posting a 1.16 ERA in 23.1 IP.
Having a million-dollar draft pick as your SATURDAY guy on the hill speaks to the depth of this staff and takes nothing away from how special Hoglund can be as his career progresses. It also shows just how dominate the aforementioned Nikhazy can be on Fridays.
Gunnar Hoglund was filthy yesterday (12Ks in 6IP, 88 pitches). pic.twitter.com/NpO1fsCnKp— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) February 23, 2020
Having these two as a one-two punch can have your weekend opponent reeling before Sunday even arrives, and by then, they’re so despondent and depressed that they can barely muster the strength to stand in the batter’s box for yet another talented young pitcher who can be lights-out, who I will now introduce.
Sunday — Derek Diamond, RHP
As a freshman last season, Diamond posted a 3.48 ERA in 20.2 innings, so he got beat up the most out of the three weekend guys, but it was the eye test that impressed me the most. Diamond was gritty when facing Louisville in the opening weekend last season, going 5.2 innings and giving up four runs, three of which were earned. Even with that, he battled and gave Ole Miss a chance to come back and win that game, leading to the now-famous Peyton Chatagnier baseball spike following the final out. He’s young, but we’ve seen young pitchers take steps from years one to two, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Derek does the same this season.
Also of note, according to the Ole Miss baseball roster, Diamond has changed his number from 16 to 2, meaning that we get a SINGLE DIGIT PITCHER on the hill on Sundays, something that is rare in baseball and should be treated and appreciated like a baby unicorn.
Most of you were already familiar with these names and how good they can be, but I felt a refresher was in order since we’re inching closer to opening day. The baseball has the potential to be good this season, and it will all start with the pitching.