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Red Raider Baseball: Friday starter candidates

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Injuries have riddled Texas Tech baseball with a lack of options for Friday nights during Big 12 play.

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-TCU vs Texas Tech Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve written about Davis Martin being your Friday night ace a few times. Before this article confuses someone, let me be clear, he still is, he’s not in jeopardy of losing said job, and we need to pray twice daily he gets healthy ASAP.

The reality is that we haven’t seen Martin start a Friday night since the Wichita State series one month ago. This has lead to a level of turbulence that has given Tech fans anxiety on a day when nobody wants to be nervous (TGIF). We’ve seen Freshman John Henry Gonzales and Junior Jacob Patterson both state their cases, and the results of their starts haven’t been pretty. Gonzales hasn’t made it past the 4th inning, and Patterson starts to run out of gas around that same time. This has created a hole the size of Jones Stadium thus far in Tech’s pitching rotation.

I’ve detailed the cause and effect of an effective bullpen, how you need 7+ arms to be a contender. Equally, I’ve added color as to why you need 3-4 starters. So as we head towards our series against Oklahoma State, who are we going to throw and why?

Candidates

John Henry Gonzales

I love JHG, and I think he has talent to eventually wind up on scouts’ radars come his junior season. Yet by Big 12 standards, we’ve seen the Freshman hit a wall as of late. His control issues have put the team in precarious situations multiple times, and he doesn’t lack the secondary pitches to work through Big 12 lineups multiple times. I wouldn’t be shocked if he started, but he hasn’t been the best option thus far.

Johnny Whole-Staff

Johnny Whole-Staff is actually the definition of what you saw Texas Tech do against NMSU earlier this week. Essentially every bullpen arm we have appears in the game to throw 1-3 innings apiece. This is effective typically when you’re in a 2-game series, or when you’ve been able to save arms for a Sunday getaway game - it’s strongly recommended against for Friday nights.

Erikson Lanning

We saw Lanning start the season as your Sunday starter, yet control issues and, frankly, being hit too hard ran him off to the bullpen. Of late, Lanning has really been one of your top middle relievers and has the stamina to pitch 6-7 innings, yet, I think he’s better suited in his current role.

Caleb Kilian

My personal pick for Friday night is Killian. He’s been absolutely nails each weekend coming out of the bullpen to supplant whoever has throw the Red Raiders into a pickle. He throws a 90+ MPH fastball, stands prototypical 6’3, and has shown the ability to get Big 12 hitters out on a consistent basis. My only real concern is his lack of stamina thus far, but I would speculate he would be good for five innings if he were to take the bump.

Love them or hate them, those are likely your only options for Friday night going forward. You could see Patterson again (doubtful), or maybe someone like Caleb Freeman (doubtful), but until Martin is back it’ll be a game of musical chairs. Thank goodness Steven Gingery starts Saturdays.