Since February 15th (Opening Day), Tiger pitching has posted a 2.73 ERA in 79 innings and is a big reason for Auburn’s current 11-2 record.
Shutouts were aplenty this past week led by starters Tanner Burns, Jack Owen, and Garret Wade starting against Cincinnati and kept the ball rolling into the UT Martin Series. Following last season’s near-historic run, Auburn’s young gunslingers had a tall task ahead. Despite doubts from some fans, they answered the call with finesse displaying veteran mound presence like it was another day at the office. From a former pitcher in myself, it has been beautiful to watch as they have set the stage so very well for the rest of the season.
What’s their secret?
Skill, a bit of luck, and great pitch selection.
What separates a pitcher and someone who heaves a ball to home is an understanding of pitch selection. Sure, you can have a curveball that breaks 6 inches or a fastball in the mid 90’s, but it’s those who can understand when and where to throw a pitch that will be successful. A pitcher’s philosophy on the mound is simple yet very complex. The goal is to get the hitter out plain and simple; the complexity of the matter comes in its approach.
Tanner Burns and Jack Owen do a great job of this. Consciously or subconsciously before every pitch these guys read and understand every variable to give them the edge over any hitter. In other words, knowing something as a pitcher that the hitter does not.
Is he a righty or lefty? What did he do last at-bat? How did I set up the guy before? What does the hitter expect? Is he crowding the plate? Is the umpire giving the outside corner? – you get the idea. Next time you find yourself at Plainsman Park, I encourage you to sit behind home plate and study what the pitcher throws and why.
It’s an unfair game for those who don’t study it properly. The Tigers will open some eyes late in the season when they make their push.
Looking at the rest of Auburn’s homestand and into next week, the Tigers welcome in the UTSA Roadrunners tonight at home with first pitch at 6pm CT. Then on March 15th it’s the start of SEC play when a dominate Tennessee comes to the Plains in what should be a big weekend full of great pitching.