What was the arguably the weakest link of underperforming Tigers' baseball team last year, the 2015 squad returns a lot of pitchers from last year including more from the most recent recruiting class as well as transfers. The Tigers only lost two pitchers from last year but they were big ones that will be tough to replace. Head Coach Jack Leggett Pitching Coach Dan Pepicelli will have to go about replacing the production of the unquestionable ace of the staff last year Daniel Gossett, who was drafted by the Oakland A's in the 2nd round of the MLB Draft. They will also have to find a new closer to replace the production of Matt Campbell who was a senior last year and was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 9th round of the MLB Draft. As the year went on Campbell became a very reliable closer and it's never easy to find a good closer so Coach Leggett and Coach Pep have their work cut out for them.
Here is a look at the returning players as well as the newcomers for this year's pitching staff.
Drew Moyer (Sophomore)- Right-Handed Pitcher out of Gilbert, South Carolina
Top returning reliever from last year.
Alex Bostic (Sophomore)- Left-Handed Pitcher out of Matthews, North Carolina
Talented left-hander who struggled during his freshman season. Will be counted on to be a contributor out of the bullpen as well as a possible closer option.
Wales Toney (Redshirt Sophomore)- Right-Handed Pitcher out of Anderson, South Carolina
Has struggled to make an impact so far early in his Clemson career but will be counted on for innings out of the bullpen.
Garrett Lovorn (Redshirt Sophomore)- Right-Handed Pitcher out of Pendleton, South Carolina
Possible contributor out of the bullpen for the 2015 season.
Brody Koerner (Junior)- Right-Handed Pitcher out of Concord, North Carolina
Koerner was the team's top midweek starter during the 2013 season before struggling last year. According to the coaching staff, Koerner has been the team's most improved pitcher and is expected to take over the Sunday spot in the rotation.
Jackson Campana (Junior)- Left-Handed Pitcher out of Charlotte, North Carolina
Will miss this season due to Tommy John Surgery.
Clate Schmidt (Junior)- Right-Handed Pitcher out of Acworth, Georgia
Was a highly regarded recruit before coming to Clemson. Schmidt has mostly been used as a starter during his Clemson career. Has been mostly inconsistent during his career but showed signs of putting things together towards the end of last year. Expected to start out in the bullpen this season as well as being a possible option for the closer role.
Zack Erwin (Junior)- Left-Handed Pitcher out of Duluth, Georgia
Erwin has been used mostly as a long reliever during his Clemson career but has made spot starts for Jack Leggett and Co. Will be the Saturday starter this season after putting together a solid summer in the Cape Cod League.
Matthew Crownover (Junior)- Left-Handed Pitcher out of Ringgold, Georgia
The unquestioned ace of the pitching staff. Will be this year's Friday starter and will be highly counted on as one of the leaders of the pitching staff.
Patrick Andrews (Redshirt Junior)- Right-Handed Pitcher out of Hilton Head, South Carolina
Expected to be a key contributor out of the bullpen as well as a possible closer option. Will miss the first month of the season to recover from Tommy John Surgery.
Kyle Schnell (Senior)- Right-Handed Pitcher out of Milton, Georgia
Schnell was one of the top relievers for the Tigers in 2013 but struggled last year. He looks to regain his 2013 form this coming season.
Jake Long (Redshirt Senior)- Right-Handed Pitcher out of Anderson, South Carolina
Was the Sunday starter for most of last year. Struggled in his first season with Jack Leggett and Co. but is expected to be a long reliever this coming season as well as making possible midweek starts.
Kevin Pohle (Redshirt Senior)- Right-Handed Pitcher out of St. Louis, Missouri
Was very productive during his first two seasons with the Tigers before struggling with injuries. Best hope for Pohle is that he can be a key contributor out of the bullpen during his final season of eligibility.
Clay Bates (Redshirt Senior)- Right-Handed Pitcher out of Rock Hill, South Carolina
Has been a big contributor out of the bullpen during his Clemson career and is still expected to be this coming season. Will miss the first couple of weeks due to arm soreness though.
Alex Eubanks (Freshman)- Right-Handed Pitcher out of Moore, South Carolina
Paul Campbell (Freshman)- Right-Handed Pitcher out of Malden, Massachusetts
Expected to be a key contributor early on out of the bullpen. Could also make mid-week starts.
Charlie Barnes (Freshman)- Left-Handed Pitcher out of Sumter, South Carolina
Also expected to be a key contributor early on. Possible mid-week starter.
Hunter Van Horn (Freshman)- Left-Handed Pitcher out of Tampa, Florida
Hard throwing left-hander who originally signed with LSU. Expected to be a lefty specialist out of the bullpen.
Alex Schnell (Freshman)- Left-Handed Pitcher out of Milton, Georgia
Younger brother of senior righty Kyle Schnell.
Mike Goren (Freshman)- Right-Handed Pitcher out of Westbury, New York
Pat Krall (Sophomore)- Left-Handed Pitcher out of Downingtown, Pennsylvania
Transfer from Temple. Expected to be a key bullpen contributor after posting a 0.66 ERA with two saves last year for the Owls before their program was dropped.
Taylor Vetzel (Redshirt Sophomore)- Right-Handed Pitcher out of Simpsonville, South Carolina
Transfer from Spartanburg Methodist College. Was the JUCO Reliever of the Year last year.
Expected Weekend Starting Rotation
Friday- Matthew Crownover
Saturday- Zack Erwin
Sunday- Brody Koerner
Weekday Starter Options: Freshmen Charlie Barnes (LHP) and Paul Campbell (RHP) along with Redshirt Senior Jake Long are the options for midweek games during the 2015 season. Jake Long was the Sunday starter most of last season before being pulled from that spot before the ACC tournament. Long struggled last year after transferring from ETSU. I think it would be in the best interests of the program and Coach Leggett (if he wants to be the coach beyond this year) if they go with either of the Freshmen for starts during the midweek games. This way it will prepare both Charlie Barnes and Paul Campbell for possible weekend starts next season and the fact that Jake Long struggled a lot last year and this is his final year of eligibility. I feel Long is best suited as a long reliever for this year's team. The coaching staff is high on both Campbell and Barnes, especially the latter who was rated as the No.1 left-hander in the state of South Carolina last year.
Closer Options: Coach Leggett and Coach Pep also have to find a new closer to replace Matt Campbell. A number of options are on the roster but it still remains unsettled. Clate Schmidt, who has been a starter for most of his Clemson career, is expected to start the season in the bullpen and could be an option as the closer. Other options include Drew Moyer, who was the team's best reliever last year(although I think he might be best suited as a setup man) and Alex Bostic who offers a lot of potential as a closer with his skill set but struggled in limited appearances due to injuries. Coach Bradley LeCroy thinks that Bostic has the potential to be a very good closer in the ACC. Another option includes Patrick Andrews, a redshirt junior who missed most of last year after undergoing Tommy John Surgery. Andrews is expected to miss the first month of the season though.
Overall Outlook: Even though this is a deeper pitching staff than last year, this unit is relatively unproven behind ace Matthew Crownover. A lot of returning pitchers will have to take big steps forward if this team is expected to win more games than last year. This unit really struggled last year but the additions provide a little bit of optimism. On the bright side, this year's team has more left-handers than in recent years which would be pivotal for having more options for righty-lefty match-ups. It's hard for me to predict how this unit will be this coming season with the amount of unknowns and the loss of Daniel Gossett and Matt Campbell. But pitching is the key to winning ballgames so our pitching will have to be miles better than last year if we want to have any hope at all of hosting a regional.