Ohio second baseman Aaron Levy tags Northern Illinois’ Samuel Vega during a doubleheader on March 31. (FILE)
Coach Rob Smith knows Ohio has several pitchers who haven’t thrown in a while, so with a back-to-back ahead, he’s not concerned about having enough pitchers.
What Smith doesn’t know is how those pitchers will perform. Smith said some of the pitchers haven’t thrown in two to four weeks.
The Bobcats will play Ohio State on the road Tuesday, and then they’ll come back home to play Shawnee State on Wednesday; the Shawnee State game was rescheduled from April 3 because of rain.
Smith usually throws multiple pitchers during mid-week games to see who can help from the bullpen during weekend series. He also wants to see who can throw a decent number of strikes. For both games, the Bobcats will need some pitchers from the bullpen to throw a few more innings than usual.
“We probably have to get something that resembles a normal looking start, at least in one of the games,” Smith said.
Smith won’t start any of the Bobcats’ weekend starters Tuesday or Wednesday, and he said that Cole Shinsky will likely start one of the games. Shinsky was set to start the original date for the Shawnee State game.
This season, Shinsky has played in five games and has two starts. In his 5 2/3 innings of work, Shinsky has allowed five hits, four walks and two earned runs.
The Bobcats are coming off an 8-1 series-finale loss against Toledo. Butch Baird started, allowing six hits and three earned runs in 4 2/3 innings. The rest of the game was left for the bullpen. Michael Klein, who is usually a weekend starter, is coming off a tweaked elbow injury; he threw 2/3 innings in his return to the mound.
Along with Klein, Kenny Ogg, Eddie Kutt, Nick Kamrada, Brett Manis and Logan Jacik contributed from the bullpen. Ogg and Kutt combined to give up five earned runs.
The Bobcats’ bullpen has shown potential this season, particularly with Kutt and Cory Blessing. Kutt and Blessing have thrown the most innings out of any nonstarter. Both pitchers also have higher ERAs than any of the weekend starters.
Before the Toledo series, Smith said Blessing may start in one of the mid-week games, depending on if he pitched a lot in the Sunday finale. Blessing threw 3 1/3 innings against the Rockets on Saturday, and he didn’t throw Friday or Sunday.
Pitching well will be important for Ohio in these two games and onward. What the Bobcats’ pitching staff needs is more strikeouts. The Bobcats are ranked ninth in the Mid-American Conference for the category with 198 this season.