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Who should FSU pitch in College World Series opener?

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Which starting pitcher gives the ’Noles the best chance to win tonight?

NCAA Baseball: Super Regional-Mississippi at Arkansas Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

After last Sunday’s dramatic finish that propelled the Seminoles to the College World Series, the debate about who to start game one in Omaha immediately began. Mike Martin said he considered CJ Van Eyk, this was reasonable since the right-handed sophomore has been the Seminoles most reliable pitcher all season and pretty dominant the last month and a half of the season. Drew Parrish, had allowed 8 earned runs in only 9.2 innings in his 2 postseason starts warranting the deliberation. But in the end, Martin kept status quo and named the lefty the starting pitcher in tonight’s opener.

Drew Parrish, who has opened every series for the Seminoles all year, will be tasked with facing a talented Razorback lineup. The rationale behind starting Parrish? Five of the Hogs best hitters are lefties, and lefties statistically have less success against left-handed pitchers. Arkansas, who has five hitters with double digit homeruns and four of the five hitters happen to hit from the left side. The offense has a .320/.415/.529 slash line against right-handers this season while they hit 53 points lower against southpaws.

Florida State obviously wants an arm that can combat the potency of that lineup, but is Parrish the best arm for the job? On the season against left-handed batters he has a .250 BAA and has allowed 12 extra-base hits, including 8 homeruns while recording 45 strikeouts to only 10 walks. The righty, Van Eyk, on the season against lefties has a BAA of .197 with 67 strikeouts to 26 walks and has surrendered 12 extra-base hits, but only 3 homeruns. So seeing that both of FSU’s options have fared similarly on the season is going with Parrish still the right choice given Van Eyk has been better overall?

The answer is yes and it really has nothing to do with lefty-lefty matchups. Win or lose tonight the Seminoles next opponent will have right-handed dominated lineups. Against righties this season, CJ Van Eyk, has a BAA of .256 with 53 strikeouts to 13 walks while Parrish has a .249 BAA and 71 strikeouts with 21 walks. The difference in those stats are negligible but what really separates the two is that Parrish has allowed 23 extra-base hits against right-handers, including 7 homeruns while Van Eyk has only allowed 5 homeruns and 10 extra-base hits in total. Parrish’s fly ball rate is also higher than Van Eyk’s, making him more susceptible to line-drive hits for extra bases. So holding off on the right-hander gives Florida State a better chance to win in game two, whether it be to remain undefeated or to hold off elimination.

The Seminoles take the field tonight at 7 PM EST and the game will air on ESPN.