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31 days till FSU baseball: Conor Grady looking to build off big sophomore season as Sunday starter

Tampa-native dominates hitters with true three-pitch mix

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-Florida State vs Texas Tech Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

We are exactly one month from FSU baseball taking the field against Niagara on February 14th. Conor Grady will take the hill for the Seminoles two days later as FSU’s 2020 Sunday starter. Grady filled the Sunday role for the last third of FSU’s 2019 season, making five weekend starts late in the season and into the postseason. The Tampa-native put up a 4.34 ERA in his freshman year and improved that number to 3.64 in 2019. Grady’s better ERA came from a better command of the strike zone, as he lowered his BB/9 from 6.52 to 3.65.

Conor is a swing-and-miss pitcher even though he doesn’t have the flashiest arsenal of pitches. Grady won’t blow it by a batter, but get him off his timing and make him feel uncomfortable in the box. The fastball will sit between 90-92 MPH with two-seam tail. Unlike most pitchers, Grady’s primary pitch really isn’t his slider. Depending on the batter, Grady’s slider and changeup are the pitches he will go to the most. Against right-handed hitters, Grady uses his hard-biting slider to keep batters from making hard contact. The slider has looked even sharper this season with new pitching coach Jimmy Belanger, as it comes in at the mid 80’s instead of the low 80’s. Against left-handed hitters, the RHP uses a nasty changeup to get batters to roll over on the baseball.

Grady’s ability to throw any of the three pitches in any count and any situation makes him so hard for batters to pick up. When Conor is on the hill, there’s a lot fo guessing in the batter’s box. He rarely misses spots over the plate, batters have to put a good swing on the ball to get a hit against him. Since he uses his off speed at such a high rate, walks will still come, but off speed pitches out of the zone aren’t always bad. I’d rather walk a batter on a 3-2 count by throwing a slider in the dirt than get beat for a home run on a hanging slider. In two years at FSU, batters have posted a .192 and .228 batting average against the tall RHP.

Last season, FSU had uncertainty heading into the year about the Sunday starter role. This year, they’re in good hands with Grady. Last season, the righty showed that he could be trusted in big games. Conor put up impressive performances against UGA and Texas Tech in the postseason last year, throwing 12 innings and giving up just three runs when FSU needed him the most. Florida State and Mike Martin Jr. should have a hand up on most teams on Sunday with Grady on the hill in 2020.