Quick: Name me one team that can lose their Friday starter to the top half of the first round of the MLB draft and have a stronger rotation the next year.
Other than us, I mean. Sure, we will be without Young Beedah's electric fastball and hammer curve, but we will also be without his erratic nature and postseason meltdowns. We'll all miss the slow frisbee action of Brian Miller and the lights out stopper that Adam Ravenelle turned into, but... Play it, the Grateful Dead!
Let's take a quick look at our returning arms. Fulmer, Buehler, Ferguson, Kilichowski, Stone, Sheffield -
(Changes pants.) Okay, I'm back. Let's just agree we're all pretty optimistic about the collection of blue-chip arms we've assembled and move onto the preview.
Ace #1: The Howitzer
#15 RHP Carson "The Florida Flamethrower" Fulmer
6'0" 195lb Junior
They tell children not to look directly into the eyes of The Florida Flamethrower when he's on the mound, as we don't want another incident like what happened to Ms. Carstwell-Klein's Omaha Elementary first grade class last year. Their heads... Der Struwwelpeter is like Pat the Bunny compared to what happened to these kids' heads.
^A light-hearted illustration from a children's tale in 19th century Germany.
Back to Fulmer. Like Dy-lan, the Flamethrower spits hot fire - from his arm. He sits at 96 mph, but can crank it up to 98 mph if he catches you looking at him sideways. He follows that up with a hammer curve that's just not fair. When he's on, the only way you're hitting him is if you close your eyes and swing randomly. Word is he's working on refining his change-up, as the knee surgeons of America are offering $10 Gs per crippling buckling resulting in surgery (look the other way on this, NCAA, or I'll have Xavier Turner punch all your babies).
In short, Fulmer is single-handedly propping up the economy for women's underwear.
Ace #2: The Tactician
#13 RHP Walker "Ferrous/The Iron Man" Buehler
6'2" 175lb Junior
Reread everything I just wrote about Carson Fulmer. Now hear this: MLB scouts expect Buehler to be drafted ahead of Fulmer.
The Iron Man has an arm-cannon of his own, and also routinely sits in the 96 mph range, with movement. No one's entirely sure why he was our mid-week guy for the bulk of last season, but by tournament time, he was our clear #2. On the season, he was 12-2 with a 2.64 ERA. You know... no big deal.
Buehler dominated on the Cape, as well, but still needs to work on keeping the ball down. Occasionally, he drives a bit early, causing him to lean back slightly and elevate the ball. With more concentration on straight up and down balance, he, too will be un-hittable.
One slight caveat... Buehler currently has a bit of a sore elbow and will likely be pitching out of the bullpen for the first few weeks as a precaution. Don't flip out. Corbin's just playing it safe, and allowing our young guns to get some innings in against the inferior competition we'll face pre-SEC play.
The Big Lefty
#21 LHP John "K-Chow (arf arf) Bat Poison" Kilichowski
6'5" 210lb Sophomore
Bat Poison is going to start this Saturday (though Corbs might change his mind) while Buehler is on the mend, touring around Chicago with his girlfriend, Sloan, and epic killjoy, Cameron. K-Chow went 0-0 with an 1.57 ERA in 23 IP last year working as the primary lefty option out of the pen. This year, he'll battle Philip Pfeifer, Jordan Sheffield, Tyler Ferguson and a slew of freshmen for the 3rd and 4th spots in the rotation. In other words, we have 6 legitimate SEC starters, and our #s 4-6 will be better than the majority of SEC rotations this year. Let that marinate in the gravy for a bit, and... NO, SHEP! THAT'S NOT YOUR FOOD!
The Million Dollar Arm
#45 RHP Tyler "Turd" Ferguson
6'4" 225lb Junior
^It's funny. It's a big hat.
Much like Young Beedah last year, Turd Ferguson has the potential to dominate, but the propensity to lose the strike zone from time to time. If he puts it all together this season, he's a first round pick. Perhaps top half of the first round. If he doesn't, he's a second to third round pick (teams will always be like, "Dat arm, though").
Power right arms like his don't grow on trees. In fact, his nickname among the players is "1-1" (meaning First round, First pick) as he can throw as hard as anyone (he sits 94-96 mph and has the frame to add a few tics if he goes max effort on a pitch). That is his ceiling. I do not expect his production to match his ceiling, but I do expect him to progress in accuracy and feel. Still, he went 8-4 with a 2.69 ERA... and this was him disappointing me. Worst case scenario, he's the best Sunday starter in baseball. If he harnesses an off-speed pitch, he'll dominate.
Again, we're going to be pretty good.
#32 RHP Hayden "Cold" Stone "K-Reamer."
6'0" 185lb Sophomore
Why am I not worried about losing Miller and Ravenelle? This guy.
I've heard tell that prophecies concerning the K-Reamer's slider prompted the oracle of Beyonce to warn, "I don't think you're ready for this jelly." Sure, music producers re-wrote it to be about her buttocks, but it was originally a dire warning to the legs and ankles of SEC batters from 2014-2016. After last year, I don't just think it... I know opposing batters won't be ready for this jelly, as his slider's too bootylicious for them.
Though Corbs has yet to announce who will close, and it likely will be a fluid situation, let's take a look at the K-Reamer's freshman numbers: 4-0, 1.71 ERA, AND AN UNGODLY 12.41 K/9 RATE. That's your closer, ladies and gentlemen, or Turd Ferguson will eat his comically oversized hat.
Odds are, The K-Reamer will be strapping on The Stone of Triumph many a time this year.
Other Pitchers Who Will Compete for Innings:
RHP Jordan Sheffield, RS Fr.
LHP Philip Pfeifer, RS Jr.
LHP Ben Bowden, So.
RHP Matt Ruppenthal, Fr.
RHP Brendan Spagnuolo, Fr.
RHP Collin Snider, Fr.
RHP Joey Abraham, Fr.
LHP Ryan Johnson, RS Fr.
RHP/IF Kyle Wright, Fr.