Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Aggies need top pitchers available in WAC Tournament
Can the New Mexico State Aggie baseball team win the 2014 Western Athletic Conference Tournament this weekend? While it can be hard picturing such a developent, it’s also possible.
For the No. 6-seeded Aggies to have any hope, however, they must have their top-two starting pitchers - Chris Bradley and Billy Conard - to be healthy enough to take the hill.
Bradley has been battling back spasms, while Conard has an injured ankle. The Aggies don’t have a ton of pitching depth the begin with, and need their top-two hurlers atop the rotation to at least give them a shot.
Bradley, a senior, has been very good at times, striking out 61 batters (while walking 46) in 65 innings of work. He sports a 3-6 record and a 4.98 ERA in 13 appearances this season, all of which have been in a starting role.
Conard has a 3-3 record of his own with a 4.94 ERA, while striking out 48 and walking 25 in 62 innings. Of his 14 appearances this year, 11 have been starts.
Behind those two are a handful of wildcards. Riley Barr has been the team’s top pitcher statistically (5-2 record, 2.72 ERA) although he’s been used primarily out of the bullpen. Of Barr’s 23 appearances this season, 21 have come as a reliever.
Robert Kraft, a left hander, has made 12 starts this season, although has been up and down with a 5.46 ERA. Trey Higginbothom, another lefty, has made just two starts this season although one was a solid effort against Arizona State (3.1 innings, two hits, five walks and one earned run).
The point is, the Aggies don’t have a ton of pitching depth. They need this first before the other necessary variables fall into place - such as their offense catching fire over a four-day stretch, and their defense playing at at least a respectable level - in order to win.
NMSU opens the 2014 WAC Tournament on Wednesday at 8 p.m. (MDT) against No. 3-seed Utah Valley. The Tournament will be played in Phoenix, Ariz.
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