Now that it is official, Pat Krall says he feels like a starting pitcher as 10th-ranked Clemson gets set to open up the 2017 baseball season on Friday against Wright State at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson. Krall will start Game 2 of the three-game series on Saturday.
This will be just the fourth of the senior’s career.
“It’s definitely nice to know what my role is going into the season,” Krall said. “I’m excited for it. I think, we don’t really have a lot of holes in our pitching staff. I think our bullpen is looking good and I think our starters are looking good. I think everyone is overall happy with where we are at right now.”
No one can be happier than Krall. Last season, the 6-foot-6, 220-pound lefty did not have a set role. He started the season as a closer, then moved to middle/long reliever and then by the end of the season became a starter.
Regardless, Krall did well in all three roles. He led the Tigers with a 10-2 record, while earning five saves. Nine of his 10 wins came in relief. He also had a team-best 1.67 ERA.
With Krall starting the season as a weekend starter, who does he believe will fill his spot out of the bullpen?
“I see a lot of guys. I see a freshman in Jake Hennessey, who has looked really, really good out of the bullpen,” Krall said. “I see guys like Paul Campbell making strides in his third year. I see Ryley Gilliam looking really, really good and there are other guys like Mitchell Miller, (Jeremy) Beasley and guys like that.
“I don’t know if anyone particularly will have the role I had last year where he would have to go an inning or seven at a time, but I think it is better for us that way. We have guys, and more than just two or three, we have four or five guys that can give you an inning or two at a time. It is not really filling my shoes, it’s establishing their roles and having a set confidence knowing people are there for you.”
As for his new role as a starter, Krall says he just has to take in one inning at a time. In the three games he started last season, he was 1-1 with one no-decision.
In his first start against NC State, he went the distance as he allowed just one run on five hits, while striking out five and walking three. However, he struggled the next week against Georgia Southern as he gave up five runs on seven hits, though he did pitch seven innings in a no-decision.
Krall’s third start came against Oklahoma State in the Clemson Regional Finals. Though he started off well, he struggled midway through the game as the Cowboys got five runs (four earned) off eight hits and ran him off after five innings of work.
“I just have to take it an inning at a time and pitch-by-pitch,” Krall said. “That is kind of what I did last year when I was in long relief, too. You just give it all you have and the coaches will make the decision to take you out or not.
“For me, I’m just trying to focus on improving my stamina every single day, and every single day pitching to my abilities.”