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2016 South Carolina Baseball Season Preview: Trio of Righties to Start Weekends for Gamecocks, Other Pitching Roles Undecided

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The pitching staff heads into 2016 with optimism, despite uncertainty in various roles

TheBigSpur

Much like the offense and the defense, South Carolina's pitching staff is going to look noticeably different in 2016. Two of the biggest names that will be missing are Wil Crowe, who missed part of last season and will likely miss all of this season after having Tommy John surgery last spring, and Jack Wynkoop, who stepped up in a big way after Crowe's injury last year, and was drafted by the Rockies in June. Outside of Crowe, South Carolina will also be without left-handed reliever John Parke this year, after an MRI showed an injury to the ulnar collateral ligament of his left elbow.

This gives the rest of the staff the chance to step up and make a name for themselves, particularly the trio of rightys who will get the nod as weekend starters: Clarke Schmidt, Braden Webb, and Taylor Widener. Schmidt made 10 starts and pitched in 18 games last season, putting together a 2-2 record with an ERA of 4.81. Widener worked almost exclusively as a reliever in 2015 and had an ERA of 4.78. Webb, a freshman, was impressive in preseason scrimmages and could help bolster a pitching core that was shaky at times last season. With Widener taking a starting role, it remains to be seen who will replace him as an anchor of the bullpen and the team's closer.

Other returning names to watch for include senior lefty Vince Fiori (2015 ERA: 4.02) and juniors Reed Scott (2015 ERA: 3.20), a righthander, and Josh Reagan (2015 ERA: 4.72), a lefty. Reagan, who earned praise during the preseason, could become a midweek starter. Another potential midweek starter is freshman righthander Adam Hill, who also earned preseason praise.

First baseman Alex Destino could take the mound for the Gamecocks in 2016 as well. Though he made only one appearance as a pitcher in 2015, it's not out of the realm of possibility that the lefthander could get some more looks this season.

The South Carolina pitching staff finished 2015 with an overall ERA of 4.20, and while that's not terrible, it would be nice to see that number improve. Despite none of the roles outside of weekend starters being locked down yet, Holbrook has sounded optimistic about his pitchers in the fall and spring, which hopefully bodes well for the season ahead.