A lot of the talk about the Oxford Regional is Mizzou’s choice to hold ace Kyle Gibson for a potential matchup with the Rebels on Saturday. MU head coach Tim Jamieson is quoted as saying, “we’re not here to win Friday, we’re here to win the regional”. It’s a calculated risk by Jamieson, as Western Kentucky is a good offensive team and Mizzou’s offensive numbers don’t really jump off the paper at you. The drop off from Gibson (10-3, 3.47) to Nick Tepesch (6-4, 5.81) is pretty drastic.
Meanwhile, Mike Bianco is taking heat in some Rebel circles for his decision to start “ace” Drew Pomeranz Friday night against Monmouth instead of the Saturday game against WKU/MU. He’s in a much different situation than Jamieson though as there’s hardly a discernable difference between Pomeranz and Saturday starter Philip Irwin. Here are the SEC-only stats for each.
Pomeranz: 5-3, 4.12 ERA, .273 opponent’s BA, 1.46 WHIP, 3.17 K/BB ratio
Irwin: 5-3, 4.40 ERA, .293 BA, 1.47 WHIP, 3.0 K/BB ratio
Each pitcher also uncorked 5 wild pitches during SEC play. Irwin also plunked 5 batters while Pomeranz didn’t hit anyone.
As a whole, Pomeranz’s numbers are better across the board, but not by much. Pom has been our Friday night starter since… ahem… his season started and he’s served us fairly well at that position. Irwin’s been solid as a Saturday guy as well. I understand the “Save Your Ace” strategy and typically am a proponent of it. But in this case, it doesn’t really matter Bianco chooses as the numbers are so similar.
Bianco would take some heat regardless of his pitching rotation this weekend. Our true ace is unavailable for the postseason in all likelihood, and we’re left with basically interchangeable parts with Irwin and Pom. I say don’t mess with a rotation that shared an SEC Championship. Pom on Friday, Irwin on Saturday.