The Maneater

“Coaches always say his control is so good, he can hit a gnat’s butt”: With confidence and command, Plassmeyer emerges as ace of Missouri pitching staff

The junior lefty has already surpassed last season’s innings and strikeout totals.

Outfielder Zach Hanna prepares for a pitch against the University of Maryland, Baltimore County Retrievers on March 4, 2018.

Michael Plassmeyer has never been a guy who wowed the opposition with his pitch arsenal; he relied on pinpoint command instead.

However, coaches and teammates attest that as he hones his repertoire and grows in confidence, the junior starting pitcher and emerging ace of the Tigers’ rotation is becoming more of a “stuff” guy, utilizing his off-speed pitches more than ever before.

His coach, Steve Bieser, agrees that he has taken his game to another level while not losing the command that got him to the Division 1 level to begin with.

“He’s always had the great command,” Bieser said.

However, things are different this year. Plassmeyer has upped the velocity on his fastball. Last year he topped out around 88 miles per hour, and now Beiser said he regularly throws 90, occasionally hitting 91 or 92 on the gun.

“Everything from his velocity uptick to his arm speed helps his stuff get better,” Bieser said. “Now whenever he tries to go in on someone he can really get it in and mix his pitches.”

His improvement is evident with a simple eye test, but the numbers don’t lie either. The 6-foot-2 junior lefty from DeSmet Jesuit in St. Louis sports a 2.82 earned run average heading into Tuesday’s contest. He has nearly cut last season’s 4.83 ERA in half.

He hasn’t simply padded his stats against weaker competition. His ERA over seven starts in Southeastern Conference play is 2.78, just below his overall average. Furthermore, he has already fanned 85 batters this season in 70.1 innings pitched, already well beyond last year’s total of 54.

He believes a number of things have helped contribute to his increased success, but he cites a boost in confidence as the most important factor.

“I’m going out there a lot more confident now,” Plassmeyer said. “I know I have the stuff to put guys away now.”

He is also quick to credit his first-year pitching coach Fred Corral for some of the strides he has made on the mound.

“He knows the lay of the SEC, and he understands how each team operates and what their tendencies are,” Plassmeyer said. “That background really helps us with our scouting reports and preparation.”

His own confidence is mirrored by his teammates’ confidence in him.

“Coaches always say his control is so good, he can hit a gnat’s butt,” said right fielder Trey Harris. “With Plass, you know what you’re going to get.”

His teammates take comfort in knowing they have a consistent fighter on the mound, as a tough SEC series remains at home against Georgia.

Plassmeyer figures to have three more slotted starts down the stretch, and his performance could go a long way toward determining whether his team can get back to an NCAA regional for the first time since 2012.

“We feel good when he walks out on the mound,” Bieser said.

Edited by Bennett Durando | bdurando@themaneater.com

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