Friday Night Arms In the Sun Belt – From the Bird’s Nest
You know that old saying, "everyone has a Friday night arm?"
Well, in the Sun Belt, it's pretty much the truth.
Every coach will tell you how important game one of a series is. And, in almost all cases, the head coach will put his best foot (or in this case, arm) forward in hopes of getting an upper hand early. And, that's made for some pretty good Friday night games in the Sun Belt this year.
With three weeks left in the season, let's look at the probable Friday night starters this weekend.
APP STATE AT UTA
LHP Colin Schmid (3-5, 4.43) vs.Trae Patterson (3-1, 4.92)--Schmid's numbers are inflated because of three poor starts (Georgia Southern, South Alabama, Little Rock). But in his other eight starts, he's given up three earned runs or fewer He's averaged a strikeout per inning and on nights when he has good command, he gives App a chance to win. Patterson moves up to Friday after handling the Saturday slot during the season. He's 3-0 in league play He won't strike out a bunch of guys, but he has good command.
GEORGIA STATE AT ULM
RHP Hunter Gaddis (7-2, 2.77) vs. RHP Chase Beal (2-6, 5.98)--Gaddis is an All-Conference first team candidate. He gives Georgia State a chance to win every week. Has been named SBC Pitcher of the Week twice and has eight quality starts on the season. Also has two complete games. Beal and Trey Jeans have both pitched on Friday night. Beal got pounded early against CCU last week which inflated his numbers, but his ERA is around 4.00 in his other league starts.
TROY AT GEORGIA SOUTHERN
RHP Andrew Crane (4-3, 3.56) vs.RHP Brian Eichorn (3-3, 3.41) vs.)--Eichorn had a tough outing against South Alabama, but the junior has been one of the better Friday arms in the league with six quality starts in seven league starts. Crane was an all-conference guy a year ago and the preseason Pitcher of the Year. His numbers aren't quite as good and giving up nine home runs has had something to do with that. But he's capable of putting up zeroes on any given night.
SOUTH ALABAMA AT LITTLE ROCK
RHP Tyler Carr (7.2. 2.89) vs. LHP Chandler Fidel--The Jags have had some questions with their pitching staff, but not on Friday. Carr had worked at least six innings in every start this season prior to last week. He's allowed three earned runs or fewer in six of his seven league starts. He is tied with GSU's Gaddis for the most wins in the league. It's not often we can say this, but Little Rock has a bonifide Friday ace in Fidel. His conference ERA is a sparkling 2.34. He doesn't throw hard despite his size, but he knows how to pitch and get people out. This could be a good one.
TEXAS STATE AT ARKANSAS STATE
RHP Connor Reich (5-2, 3.64) vs. RHP Bradey Welsh (2-4, 4.42)--Reich started as the Saturday starter, but moved to Friday when Nicholas Fraze had to miss a start. He's performed well with exception of a start against South Alabama. He allowed just one earned run in seven innings against Georgia Southern last week. Welsh's ERA is misleading, as two really bad outings have inflated his numbers. Taking out his performance against Georgia State, Welsh's conference ERA is around 3.00. Interestingly, the best matchup might be on Saturday when Fraze hooks up against reigning SBC Pitcher of the Week Nate Alberius.
COASTAL CAROLINA AT LOUISIANA
RHP Zack Hopeck (4-3, 3.96) vs. LHP Colten Schmidt (5-0, 1.69)--Hopeck was moved into the Friday night spot three weeks ago. He's a strike thrower whose four wins have all come in conference play. Other than one bad outing against Georgia Southern, Hopeck has given his team a chance to win every time out. Schmidt started the season in the mid-week but now he's the Cajuns (and the league's) ace. He's only allowed more than three earned runs in a game once, and that was last week against Georgia State. Three of those runs came on one swing. At home, Schmidt has been lethal, with an ERA of 0.87.