South Carolina’s pitching staff will have a new look this year, with the pitchers under the direction of a new coach for the first time in a while, following former coach Jerry Meyers’ departure for medical reasons. New coach Skylar Meade came to the Gamecocks from Michigan State, and he’ll look to make sure the staff is strong following an offseason of some uncertainty.
There are a lot of new faces on the staff this season, but junior Adam Hill will be a familiar one, and he’s set to be the opening game starter. Hill pitched 77 innings and posted an ERA of 3.04 in 2017, and will look to become a dependable Friday night guy in the wake of Clarke Schmidt and Wil Crowe’s departures.
Other guys in the mix for starting roles include sophomore Cody Morris and freshmen Carmen Mlodzinski and Logan Chapman. It seems likely Morris, who had an ERA of 3.66 in 39.1 innings pitched in 2017, will become the Saturday starter, leaving the Sunday spot open for one of the newcomers. A trio of transfers - Eddy Demurias, Ridge Chapman, and Gage Hinson – could also be in contention for starting spots, and it will likely take a few weeks for the coaching staff to make a final call on the rotation.
Head coach Mark Kingston said Demurias and Ridge Chapman could also be considered for the closer’s role, as could Sawyer Bridges. Other returning guys who will be counted on out of the bullpen in middle innings include junior Graham Lawson and sophomore Colby Lee.
The Gamecocks pitching staff as a whole had an ERA of 3.72 in 2017, and while that’s not terrible, it would be nice if they could get it back down closer to the 3.29 ERA the 2016 staff posted. This season’s group of pitchers lacks the overall experience the Gamecocks have enjoyed over the last few years, so they’ll need new guys to step up and start to fill key roles and guys like Hill and Morris to lead by example. With some degree of uncertainty surrounding the Gamecocks as a whole heading into the season, a strong pitching staff could go a long way toward giving the team more confidence and putting them in a position to exceed expectations in 2018.