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Projecting the 2017 Mississippi State Pitching Rotation

With only one entrenched starter for 2017, there is a lot of unknowns to the pitching staff.

The Bulldogs play a baseball scrimmage before the start of the 2017 baseball season at Dudy Noble Field.
Kelly Price: @HailStatePics

Konnor Pilkington. He appears to be a safe bet for the Friday night spot on SEC weekends. Outside of him? Your guess is as good as mine.

I’m going to give you the four guys I think start the weekend series this weekend, and then tell you how it shakes out for SEC play. I’ll also tell you who I think is the closer because he will likely will be close to having the most appearances this season. But at this point, nothing would surprise me.

Projected 4 Game Series Rotation

  • Game 1 - Konnor Pilkington
  • Game 2 - Graham Ashcraft
  • Game 3 - Peyton Plumlee
  • Game 4 - Ryan Cyr
  • Closer - Blake Smith
  • Midweek Starters - Riley Self and Hayden Marze

Keep in mind this is just a guess. No one outside of Konnor Pilkington has demonstrated consistency. There have been times when each of the players up for starting positions has looked really good and there have been times when they have looked subpar. There is also the possibility Kale Breaux, Trysten Barlow, Parker Ford, Jacob Billingsley, and Trey Jolley could all start as well. And then there could be someone else who steps up that I was thinking was a sure fire bet for the bullpen. The point being, there’s a lot to figure out.

I slotted these pitchers where I did for the first weekend because of the competition they will face for each game. Pilkington will start Game 1 against Texas Tech, and then Plumlee and Ashcraft will be eased into the rotation against Division 1 opponents by being matched up against Western Illinois. Ryan Cyr would close out the series against Texas Tech on Sunday.

If we were basing the pitching rotation on pure talent alone, then there is little doubt how the pitching rotation would work out. Konnor Pilkington, Graham Ashcraft, and Riley Self would be the weekend starters when SEC play rolls around. But considering two of those players are true freshmen, I wouldn’t count on it.

The Bulldogs first two series are the four game variety. We’ll get our first glimpse at where Cannizaro and Henderson are leaning for the SEC opener against Arkansas when the Bulldogs travel to Oregon in early March. When they do, I think this is what we see.

Three Game Weekend Series Rotation

  • Game 1 - Konnor Pilkington
  • Game 2 - Ryan Cyr
  • Game 3 - Graham Ashcraft
  • Closer - Blake Smith
  • Midweek Starters - Peyton Plumlee and Riley Self

Cyr showed some good signs in limited action in 2017. I think that little bit of success will give him the confidence he needs to be able to nail down a starter position. Ashcraft is blessed with tons of natural ability, so I expect to see him somewhere in the rotation. Smith seems like the likely option at closer.

Again, this is just a guess. We could see a completely different round of guys by the time we actually get to that series in Oregon and then see another set of guys by the time we play Arkansas.

The Bulldogs should be able to score some runs. If they can, it will give the pitchers time to settle down and figure things out. If the Bulldogs want to have a successful season, they’ll need them to figure things out before they get to SEC play.