FSU baseball finds itself in a similar situation to last season — thrusting a freshman into a weekend-rotation role.
On February 18, 2017, a relief appearance during the team’s second game of the season, sophomore Drew Parrish, then a freshman, made his Seminoles debut. Less than a week later he found himself in the weekend rotation. Coach Mike Martin decided, after a ninth-inning collapse against USF, it was best for the club to utilize No. 1 starter Drew Carlton as a closer. The “curious” decision, as explained by Wayne McGahee of the Tallahassee Democrat, paved the way for Parrish to join the rotation.
Fast forward to this season. After making just one start, an opening day win over Xavier, FSU ace Tyler Holton (Tommy John surgery) is done for the season. Obviously, the Seminoles are in a tougher situation this time because their go-to starting pitcher will not throw again this season, however, it provides an opportunity for another freshman just as it did for Parrish last season. It’s time for you to get to know Austin Pollock.
With Holton lost for the season, Martin has decided to give Pollock a shot in the rotation. On Thursday morning, the club confirmed that Pollock would join Cole Sands and Drew Parrish as the weekend starters moving forward, while Andrew Karp remains the team’s mid-week option.
The benefit of losing Holton this early in the season is that it gives the team plenty of time to rally around each other, figure out the moving parts, and adjust to the hand they’ve been dealt. Coach Martin said it best when asked about the injury to his ace.
“We’ll be there for him and help guide him through the rehab process,” Martin said. “But as a team, we have to keep moving forward on our goals for this season.”
The expectation is not for Pollock to go out and put up Holton-like numbers. The more appropriate barometer is that of Parrish last season. Like Parrish in 2017, Pollock made his FSU-debut during the second game of the season (4 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 5 K, 0 BB).
Yes, they’re both lefties. And yes, both will have made their first-career start (364 days apart) on the second weekend of the season. However, the most important comparison will come when looking at how well Pollock performs in the new role.
Parrish (6-3; 4.52) looked fantastic in spots last season. In fact, if not for two bad outings (Virginia Tech and NC State), where he allowed 7 ER in each start, Parrish would have posted a 3.47 ERA. Perhaps the biggest surprise during his freshman campaign was that he posted a 3.20 K/BB ratio over 91.2 IP — very impressive for a freshman under the spotlight of FSU baseball.
The bottom line is this: Florida State has one of the best freshman classes in the country. Sure, Holton is impossible to replace. It doesn’t, however, mean that this team is suddenly not a contender to make a run at the College World Series.