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Philip Pfeifer Gets the Starting Nod

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Tim Corbin is a man of routine, shocking no one.

The players, supporting Tim Corbin's sound decision in giving the ball to Philip Pfeifer
The players, supporting Tim Corbin's sound decision in giving the ball to Philip Pfeifer
Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Following the post-Kendall walk off euphoria, our minds went to one question: "Who gets the ball against TCU?"

According to Adam Sparks of The Tennesseean, the man on the mound in the top of the first will be RS Jr. LHP Philip Pfeifer.

Despite Walker Buehler being the most well rested 1st round pick in CWS history, this is not surprising.  First, no matter the outcome of this game, we will have to play at least once more.  Win today and Buehler could pitch us to the finals.  Second, the meat of the TCU lineup is left-handed, so Pfiefer will have the platoon advantage.

TCU leads off with switch-hitter Cody Jones, but the next three batters are all left handed (Fagnan, Wanhanen, and Skoug).  From there, the lineup goes R-L-R-L-S.

For today, against the Horned Frogs, this was the right call.

Pfeifer, though his season stats (5-4, 4.09 ERA) don't show it, has been exceedingly effective once he calms down.  Against Indiana, Pfeifer came in like a closer, and though he struck out the side, he gave up 2 runs in the first inning.  He started to calm down in the 2nd, allowing one run to plate, and then was unhittable until he gave up one run in the 6th.  He struck out 10 in 6 innings, giving up 5 hits, and walking 1.

Against Illinois, with the opportunity to send us to Omaha firmly on his mind, Pfeifer also opened wild, but settled in much more quickly.  He went 6 and 2/3 IP, giving up 7 hits and walking 3, but he only allowed a run in the first and 3rd innings.  Against the Illini, when he finally settled in, Pfeifer was pounding the strike zone low, pitching to contact, and trusting the defense.

In his last two starts, against the Indiana Hoosiers and Illinois Illini respectively, Pfeifer has started off too amped up, gotten wild, but settled down by the 2nd or 3rd inning.  Today, against the great pitching, opportunistic hitting, base-stealing horny toads, Pfeifer will have to come in calm, stay in the strike zone, and let the defense do their job.

Start cranking the soothing ocean sounds right now, Corbs.  We want Pfeif mellow.

No word yet on who TCU will counter with, but I'd expect So. LHP Tyler Alexander (6-2, 2.86 ERA) or Jr. LHP Alex Young (9-2, 2.31 ERA), as they started against aTm last week, and I'm assuming TCU has scouted us.  Of course, Schlossnagle could always decide to go with Man-Mountain RS So. RHP Mitchell Traver (9-2, 1.60 ERA), in which case, expect our power bats to show up strong.

**Update: We will be facing LHP Alex Young.  He throws in the low 90s, and has about a 9 K/9 and 2 BB/9.

Side note: Xavier Turner will not be suiting up for us next year, as he just signed with the Rangers.