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31 days till FSU baseball: Conor Grady brings veteran mentality back to rotation

Harder fastball leads to more room for error for RHP.

Florida State baseball has a position battle ongoing for all three of their weekend rotation spots. The ‘Noles lost two-thirds of their starting rotation from the 2020 season. FSU returns with lots of talent and potential, but most of it comes with inexperience. Conor Grady returns for his fourth year in Tallahassee with the experience and mentality to fulfill a weekend rotation spot for another season.

Grady was FSU’s Sunday starter for all of the shortened season and the 2019 postseason run. In his first full season as a starter, Grady had an up-and-down year. He posted a 3.00 ERA in four starts, but struggled with efficiency and command in his last two outings. For his career, the Tampa native has a 3.74 ERA in 108.1 IP, 119 K’s and 55 walks.

The right-handed pitcher can struggle with walks because he throws more off-speed than fastballs, due to the swing-and-miss nature of his slider and changeup. The slider is a tight, mid-80’s breaker. He’s shown the ability to use it sliding away from RHH, and below the hands of lefties. The changeup is an advanced pitch against lefties and keeps them off the fastball, often inducing soft contact and roll overs.

Last season, Grady struggled with efficiency because of a reduced feel for his slider and the inability to put hitters away. In the fall, he rediscovered the slider that made him dominant at times over the last two years. Grady’s fastball also ticked up this fall, sitting mostly 91-93, up from the 89-91 it was last season. With the sharper fastball, came the sharper slider. Hitters have less time to read and react to the sharp slider, which led to more swing-and-misses.

There are a lot of young and exciting options, but the stable veteran will likely fill a weekend spot at the start of the season in 2021. Grady’s never-wavering mentality makes him a perfect option to fit in the Sunday starter role. The uptick in velocity will give him more room for error with his fastball. His season will depend on his early count success.

When he gets ahead in counts and can utilize his off-speed as out-pitches, he dominates. When he gets behind, he struggles. In a full season, the Seminoles will need more strikes and more efficiency out of the veteran. In his second season working with Jimmy Belanger and with more aggression, that efficiency and command should improve for the RHP.