Texas A&M Baseball: A Comeback Story for the Ages

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The Turning Point

Following their first conference win against Vandy, they won their first conference series on the road against LSU. The LSU series was nothing short of incredible. Not only did A&M get its first shutout of LSU since 1977 thanks to Brigham Hill, but they literally stole the series with a 4-run 9th inning capped off by Walker Pennington’s 3-run home run. Sure, the team did lose the Saturday tilt, but LSU’s Jared Poche at the time had a 0.90 ERA. Given how the season started, a series win on the road against a top 10 club deserved some notice.

Since then, the good guys in maroon and white have reeled off some impressive weekends including:

  • A series against Auburn (fittingly during Ring Day/Parents’ Weekend)
  • Sweeping Alabama on the road
  • A series win against Tennessee
  • Sweeping Missouri on the road

That’s five straight SEC series wins. After the way conference play started, that’s an incredible turnaround. I had already written 2017 off as a rebuilding year considering the amount of players the team lost to the MLB last season. That hit home during the entire month of March. However, since that LSU series, Aggie Baseball has done nothing but surprise me given the youthful nature of this team.

What Sparked the Turnaround?

The bullpen and starting pitching. Especially during March, A&M had the continuous problem of strong starts wasted by poor relief pitching. In retrospect, Rob Childress was probably figuring things out. Fast forward to the present day, and we actually have a hierarchy in the starting rotation and the bullpen.

The A&M bullpen has been 8-1 with a 1.27 ERA while logging 90 strikeouts during the month of April.

Turner Larkins (3.31 ERA), at least for now, will continue to be the midweek starter. Hill starts Game 1 of the weekend, Martin starts Game 2 and Kolek starts Game 3. The go-to relievers are Cason Sherrod (2.86 ERA), Kaylor Chafin (2.03 ERA), John Doxakis (4.39 ERA). Mitchell Kilkenny (3.30 ERA) has emerged as the closer. He now has 7 saves on the season. That order was all over the place two months ago.

The A&M bullpen has been 8-1 with a 1.27 ERA while logging 90 strikeouts during the month of April. Those are some outstanding numbers considering where they were in March. It’s a testament to this coaching staff to have the bullpen go from an absolute liability to the team’s biggest strength.

Baseball has always been the type of game where you can score 10+ runs one game and struggle to score 3 the next. That said, games are won and lost by relief pitching. From what I understand, Texas A&M head coach Rob Childress has built his reputation on being a pitching coach, so it was only a matter of time before the bullpen righted itself.