Clemson plans to lean on its bullpen more this year to win games
Clemson head coach Monte Lee says Jacob Hennessy, Brooks Crawford and Jake Higginbotham got the starts for this weekend’s opening series against William & Mary because they earned it.
“They have earned the right to go out there and be weekend starters,” he said on Tuesday. “It is not because we just picked them. It’s because Brooks Crawford has a 0.00 ERA since he came back. He has given up two hits in 11 innings. He needs to start, Hennessy the same thing.
“These guys have not been touched. They earned the right to start, but we are always going to look at what we are doing and who is pitching well. Let’s try to maximize what each guy can do within their roles to help us win ballgames.”
There were a number of guys Lee said pitched well in preseason practices and will be used a lot during the season and possibly as starters. The Clemson coach mentioned guys like Spencer Strider, Travis Marr, Mat Clark, Ryan Miller and Owen Griffith.
“All of those guys threw the ball very well and we could have put them in the weekend rotation and felt very good about it,” Lee said.
Lee says they feel like they can run Strider, Marr, Clark and Griffith for seven or eight innings and then bring in Ryley Gilliam to close the game.
“You can run for seven to eight innings and give two different looks to a lineup before you get to a closer,” he said. “That is kind of the mindset that we are going with because these three guys, we fill like, have really good stuff, but if we are in a situation where by the fourth or fifth inning we have to go to the (bull)pen, then Ryan Miller, we can stretch him out. Spencer Strider, we can stretch him out. Matt Clark, we can stretch him out. Travis Marr, we can stretch him out. They can piggyback behind those guys, as we call it, and it is a different look. So that is kind of the idea.”
Unlike last year, Lee says he does not think he can look at the weekend rotation and say they are going to ask their three pitchers to pitch for seven or eight innings. Last season, the goal was to get Charlie Barnes, Pat Krall and Alex Eubanks deep into the game.
“We don’t feel like we have to do that necessarily this year,” he said. “We feel like we have more depth this year and we feel like we can run a couple of different looks at a lineup and maybe use three to four guys in a ballgame, but hopefully, get the same result.”