Lee pinpoints where improvement has to start for Clemson baseball

Lee pinpoints where improvement has to start for Clemson baseball


Lee pinpoints where improvement has to start for Clemson baseball


The 2021 college baseball season wasn’t exactly one to remember for Clemson.

The Tigers took a significant dip in the ACC last season, finishing 25-27 overall and just 16-20 in league play in Monte Lee’s sixth season at the helm. It was the program’s first losing season in more than six decades (1957).

Ask Lee to pinpoint why Clemson struggled so much a season ago, and he doesn’t hesitate.

“When you look at the teams that, at least that I’ve coached, have been successful, successful teams are consistent,” Lee said. “And consistency starts on the pitching side.”

The Tigers weren’t exactly an offensive juggernaut either, tying Pittsburgh for the second-lowest team batting average in the conference. But Clemson rarely gave itself a chance on the mound, where a mixture of injuries and ineffectiveness led to eight different pitchers making multiple starts a season ago.

Clemson posted a 5.00 earned run average as a team, easily the highest it’s been since Lee took over the program in 2016. The Tigers allowed at least eight runs in 31% of their games (16 of 52).

“We had a lot of games where we scored six or seven runs in the game and lost,” Lee said. “I’ve never had that happen.”

The most consistency came from right-hander Mack Anglin, who posted a 3.99 ERA with 75 strikeouts in 56 1/3 innings. But injuries limited him to just 13 appearances and eight starts.

Anglin, who put his professional career on hold to return to Clemson for a third season, enters this season as the favorite to be the Tigers’ Friday night starter. Lee has a handful of other pitchers he’s evaluating between now and Clemson’s opener against Indiana on Feb. 18 to fill out the weekend rotation.

And there’s one area in particular where the pitching staff needs to improve collectively in order to prevent so many crooked numbers: Home runs. Clemson gave up 73 long balls last season, another first for the Tigers under Lee. The most they had allowed in the previous five seasons was 51 in 2019 when Clemson finished .500 in ACC play.

“The two things you can’t defend, we have to minimize,” said Lee, referencing home runs and walks. “I think that’s the biggest thing we have to do on the pitching side to be successful. We’ve got to play good defense. We’ve got to throw strikes. But we’ve got to keep the ball in the ballpark. That’s what killed us last year.”

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