May 19, 2017 11:16:43 PM
Those of you on Twitter know the primary topic of discussion for the final 90+ minutes of LSU's 11-5 win Friday night over Mississippi State was Riley Self. People seemed to be clamoring for his entry at different points, but almost everyone seemed to agree his presence was needed in the sixth inning, when LSU scored four runs.
So, to address this question. Let me begin with MSU coach Andy Cannizaro's response when asked about him. Then, I'll get into some of my thoughts, both on the debate and on Cannizaro's response.
The question was worded as, "How much did you consider going to Riley Self at the sixth inning?"
"No, I didn't at the time. Denver had retired a bunch of guys at the time, certainly going really well, had really gotten up quick on (LSU third baseman) Josh Smith there with two strikes. He made a mistake, they hit it off the wall and 45 minutes later they had four runs.
"A guy like Riley Self has been used this year when we have the lead. He's dealt with some arm issues, he's already had shoulder surgery, he's dealt with an elbow issue earlier this year. We want to limit him to shorter stints, so when we have the lead, that's the time to use him because you can probably only use him once on the weekend. That's how we've used him all year. That's the way we've played it, that's why he didn't go in the ball game right there.
"We have a bullpen full of guys that need to do a better job than they did tonight. Walks killed us. The inability to throw over the plate, the inability to locate fastballs, that's what killed us. When we bring guys out of the bullpen, we talk all year about being ready, coming in, attacking the strike zone and the bottom half, and we didn't do that tonight. We are lined up, ready to go tomorrow.
He then added news of Cole Gordon starting tomorrow and the following being available to help him: Jacob BIllingsley, Self and Spencer Price. He then continues:
"I never lose confidence in this team because we have played too well and over-exceeded everybody's expectations around here, and two days and one rough night are not going to ruin that. Did we get our butts whipped? Yeah, that wasn't a very good night. But you know what? We'll be ready to go tomorrow."
Now, my thoughts:
- First, I made this point on Twitter but I'll make it again for those that didn't see it there. I think a lot of people immediately dismissed the use of Trey Jolly in that spot based on the simple fact that he's not Riley Self. I want to stand up for Coach on that one: Jolly's last outing was probably his second best of the entire season, throwing 2 1/3 perfect innings against Troy. One person on Twitter said Jolly has been inconsistent, and there is some truth to that, but it's worth noting he's shown the ability to carry a hot hand: take away the first and least appearance of April and he was good all month. Jolly having pitched the way he did earlier this week -- and, in all honesty, maybe being MSU's third-best bullpen arm at the moment (either him or Peyton Plumlee) behind Self and Spencer Price -- makes him a fair option, in my opinion.
- Now, for somewhere where I can't, in good faith, defend Coach. The part where Cannizaro said that is how MSU has used Self all year long -- that being one short stint per weekend -- is false. Self has been used twice or more in six SEC Series this year, even pitching all three games and both games of a doubleheader against Alabama. Self has thrown 3 or more innings in four SEC weekends, including going 3 1/3 against Texas A&M earlier this month. Now, go back and read that part about Self's injury history. It would be easy to think Self is dealing with some soreness at the moment, thus leading Cannizaro to being more cautious with him now than he has in the past. That's my sneaking suspicion.