Plassmeyer rolling after earning his place in starting rotation
The freshman has not allowed a run in his last two starts.
Apr. 11, 2016
For the first half of the season, Sundays were enigmas for the Missouri baseball team.
The first two games of each weekend series were reserved for redshirt senior Reggie McClain and sophomore Tanner Houck, two of the most dominant pitchers in the Southeastern Conference. Sunday games, however, have been a clear question mark.
Missouri’s pitching inconsistency has plagued the the team, giving it a 2–4 record on Sundays while allowing an average of 7.33 runs to cross the plate per game. That was until freshman pitcher Michael Plassmeyer stepped up.
Plassmeyer’s ascension began when coach Tim Jamieson struggled to name a starter in the Tigers’ third game against then-No. 15 Arkansas two weeks ago.
“When we were at Arkansas last weekend, I didn’t know who I was going to start until probably an hour and a half before the game,” Jamieson said. “We were going to staff the game. We were going to go a guy an inning and since (Plassmeyer) had started before, we let him go out there and throw the first inning.”
What happened next caught Jamieson completely by surprise.
“It was so good,” Jamieson said. “His velocity was up to 92 miles an hour and the highest he’s been before that is 88. He just kept his velocity (and) kept making pitches, so we kept him out there and I didn’t expect that.”
While Plassmeyer pitched only 3.2 innings, he struck out five Razorbacks and didn’t allow a run. His performance earned him the win as Missouri won 10–1 and picked up its first SEC series win of the season.
Last Sunday, Jamieson threw Plassmeyer out on the mound for another rubber match. This time, the freshman faced Auburn, the SEC’s premier offense.
Plassmeyer’s performance was nothing short of spectacular. The left-hander struck out five batters, only allowed three hits and didn’t allow a run in 5.2 innings of work.
“I really committed to just attacking the zone and throwing strikes and letting them put the ball in play and letting the defense make the play,” Plassmeyer said.
Missouri went on to win the game 4–3, marking its second straight SEC series victory. Both series wins originated from the left arm of Plassmeyer.
Only a few weeks ago, Plassmeyer’s dominance over the SEC would have seemed improbable. The freshman held the team’s highest ERA at 5.90 and had only struck out 10 batters in almost 23 innings of work.
“Before, I was trying to be a little too perfect,” Plassmeyer said. “I felt like I was kind of giving hitters a little too much respect.”
Now, Plassmeyer has found his groove and has not given up a run in his last 9.1 innings on the mound. He has tied his strikeout numbers from the first half of the season in only two games and looks to have secured his spot as Missouri’s permanent Sunday starter.
“He’s came out and shown that he can pitch,” sophomore catcher Brett Bond said. “He’s got a spot on Sunday.”
Much of Plassmeyer’s success has come from a growth in confidence. The freshman is now throwing his secondary pitches more consistently and is keeping opposing batters off balance as a result.
“It’s confidence,” Jamieson said. “Before, he was a little timid and when you are timid you don’t cut loose. The thing he did (Sunday) really well is he came inside on the right handed hitters. He can really pitch, I think it’s just a matter of his confidence level right now than it has been any other time.”
Plassmeyer’s securing of the Sunday spot helps the Tigers with more than just giving them a consistent starter on Sundays. It also gives the Missouri bullpen the much needed arm of senior pitcher Austin Tribby.
Tribby, who split starts with Plassmeyer on Sunday games earlier this season, was primarily a relief pitcher before the start of this season. Tribby came into the season as one of the only Tiger pitchers with experience pitching out of the bullpen.
“We knew we needed to move Tribby to the bullpen,” Jamieson said. “We can keep Tribby in the pen and start (Plassmeyer) and that makes our staff a little bit better.”
Plassmeyer’s surge into the starting rotation gives a Tiger pitching staff that has been riding solely on the arms of McClain and Houck a much needed boost. Jamieson and his team hope that it can give them the ability to reach a much sought after regional birth.
“It’s huge because not everybody in the league has that,” Jamieson said. “To be able to go into Sunday knowing that you can control the game a little bit.”
Edited by Alec Lewis | firstname.lastname@example.org