Gamecocks Baseball: Our Take on Who Should Start Friday

South Carolina has won both of its games in this year’s College World Series and finds itself in the unfamiliar position of being the lone team in the winner’s bracket on its side.  The Gamecocks have two days off before they play Friday night against the winner of the California – Virginia game.  Given that kind of rest USC can choose which pitcher it wants to go with rather than going with one it has to.  Such is the advantage of being in the winner’s bracket.

The question has been debated, and it seems to come down to a decision between Forrest Koumas or Michael Roth.  Ray Tanner hasn’t decided on who to go with yet, or if he has, he hasn’t said for sure one way or the other.  It seems like he was leaning toward Koumas after Tuesday night’s game.  Until he let’s us know what the right answer is, here some things to consider and let us know if you agree…

There is a tomorrow.  In tournaments you can rarely afford to hold anything back.  Usually if you do, you are gambling, and more often than not you will get burned.  Being the winner of two games makes South Carolina the exception.  At a minimum the Gamecocks will play two more games, so they don’t have to throw everything they have at it in one night.  If you do play two, Michael Roth is a good insurance policy for the second game.

Let them rest.  You shouldn’t throw your pitchers on short rest unless you have to.  Forrest Koumas is rested.  He hasn’t thrown since the regionals (which means he only missed one week).  Roth pitched over 100 pitches on Sunday.  Another day of rest might make him that much more effective and could help him if he has to pitch on short rest later.

Don’t play with their minds.  Ray Tanner knows way more about managing his players’ psyches, so this is admittedly amateur hour on my part, but here it is anyway.  At some point choosing people other than Koumas might start to mess with his head.  Forrest had been the second starter late in the season, and he has been moved to third in the rotation.  That is mostly because of Holmes’s experience and not a reflection of Koumas’s shortcomings.  Nonetheless, if Koumas gets passed over when he doesn’t have to be, you have to wonder what that move might do to his confidence.

Take the long view.  Consider what your options look like if South Carolina wins the first game.  If Koumas is your pitcher, then Roth is ready for Game 1 of the championship series.  If Roth is your pitcher on Friday, then he could come back on short rest for a possible Wednesday game, or he could come back for limited innings in a Tuesday elimination game.

Coach Tanner will let us know what he’s going to do, but it might not be until after he knows whether he is playing California or Virginia.  There might be some match-up issue, or Michael Roth might demand the ball again.  Who knows?  From the outside looking in, LOHD says Forrest Koumas should start.

Do you agree?