FSU baseball: How should FSU handle starting pitching in Tallahassee Regional?

Florida State baseball held its first practice of the 2024 season on Friday, Jan. 26, 2024 at Dick Howser Stadium.
Florida State baseball held its first practice of the 2024 season on Friday, Jan. 26, 2024 at Dick Howser Stadium. / Ehsan Kassim/Tallahassee Democrat / USA

FSU baseball (42-15) will enter the Tallahassee Regional with the top offense among the four teams. If the offense continues to hit as it did for most of the ACC Tournament, it'll make the question of who to use as a starting pitcher a moot point. However, the FSU offense didn't exactly light up the No. 4 seed Stetson Hatters pitching in the regular season. The Noles faced them twice in the regular season. FSU split the two-game series using the bullpen arms in each game. The game FSU lost was mostly freshman and Yoel Tejeda pitching and allowing the most damage. Link Jarrett believes they must try to win these regional games at all costs. He's right, which begs the question how does he handle the starting rotation? FSU has proven it can beat Stetson with bullpen arms. That's the approach I'd take, choosing to save Jamie Arnold for game two in the winner's bracket. Conner Whittaker was the midweek starter early in the season before moving to the Sunday starter role. He's a veteran who throws strikes. He's been building his endurance since returning from injury and threw the most pitches (49) he's thrown since his return in an appearance last week in the ACC Tournament.

They can likely extend him to 75-80 pitches, which usually equates to 4-5 innings for Whittaker. FSU can opt for Andrew Armstrong, Conner Hults, or Brennan Oxford for extended innings out of the bullpen. The score will likely dictate who they decide to use. If it's a large lead, we could see some younger arms. If FSU wins game one, FSU can go to Jamie Arnold in game two, depending on who wins between Alabama and UCF. FSU can also risk pitching Connor Dorsey in game two and saving Jaime Arnold for the regional finals. Dorsey hasn't been at his best in his last few outings. He's walked 11 batters in his last 13.1 innings as a starter before his two poor appearances in the ACC tournament. It's hard to know what you'll get from him at this point. FSU must do everything possible to go 2-0 and reach the regional finals, so I lean toward Whittaker/bullpen in game one and Arnold in game two. That way, FSU would have to lose back-to-back games to get eliminated, and I like our chances to avoid that happening.

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