On Friday, the Ole Miss Rebels open the 2015 baseball season with weekend matchup against William & Mary at Swayze Field. We are getting so close to the anticipated season that we can smell the freshly cut grass at Swayze and feel the beer showers in right field. Are you Ready? We are prepared to bring you the complete preview of the upcoming season.
We start our 2015 preview with the discussion of the 2015 starting rotations on the mound. Last season, the Ole Miss Rebels primary starting rotation consisted of Friday with RHP Chris Ellis, Saturday with junior LHP Christian Trent, and series were wrapped up on Sunday’s with senior RHP Sam Smith. Ellis has moved on to bigger things as he signed with the Angels in the 2014 MLB Draft, and will be pitching for the Orem Owlz, one of the Angels’ minor league affiliates. However, the Rebels will return last season starters Smith and Trent. That leaves one spot open for the weekend rotation. Who will it be?
Jun 17, 2014; Omaha, NE, USA; Mississippi Rebels pitcher Christian Trent (47) delivers a pitch against the Texas Tech Red Raiders during game seven of the 2014 College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
Last spring, Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said Sean Johnson, a 6-foot-7 junior right-hander from the junior college ranks, would be a weekend, but said Johnson has been dealing with tendinitis and will be limited to bullpen work in the first weekend. In his place, Smith will move up to Saturday, and sophomore RHP Brady Bramlett will get the start on Sunday against William & Mary. Bramlett missed the last part of the 2013 season and the entire 2014 season due to recovery from a torn labrum.
So, for the upcoming three game series at Swayze Field against William & Mary, the Rebels starting rotation will be as followed:
Friday 2/13: Christian Trent
Saturday 2/14: Sam Smith
Sunday 2/15: Brady Bramlett
In the 2013 season, Bramlett appeared on the mound in eight games, making the start in four. He posted a 5-1 record with a 3.00 ERA as he allowed nine runs – eight earned – through 24.0 innings of work. Bramlett struck out 24 and walked 11 while holding opponents to a .196 batting average. He picked up wins over UAPB, Southeastern Louisiana, at Louisiana-Monroe, Arkansas State, and at Arkansas State. It has been reported that Bramlett’s slider and change-up have been looking good this year, while his fastball has been consistently staying in the low to mid 90s.
Bianco had this to say about Bramlett:
"“You don’t know when they come off an injury where they are going to be or how they are going to be that first year back. When they are released and able to pitch you have to see how they are. Brady had a really good fall. Once we got back, his three starts were probably better than any of the starters. He was pretty spotless here this January and early February. We are excited. He is a guy when we recruited him a couple years ago we knew would have a big time fastball. His slider keep coming, and he has improved his change-up. We really think he is going to have a big year.”"
Johnson comes to Ole Miss from Iowa Western Community College. He pitched for head coach Marc Rardin and helped lead the Reivers to a 2014 national championship. He threw 75 innings as a sophomore in 2014, going 10-1 with 88 strikeouts and 16 walks.
Bianco on Johnson:
"“We mentioned earlier to some of you that Sean Johnson would be a weekend starter. He came up a few days before our first intersquad game with some tendonitis in his shoulder. He is fine and he threw a bullpen on Friday. Sean will throw another bullpen tomorrow. He will not pitch in the first weekend, he just isn’t in shape enough to start and log that many innings. Look for him to, at some point, get back into that starting role.”"
Trent, on the move from Saturday starter to Friday starter:
"“My routine is not going to change. You’re still coming to the field and do everything pregame I did last year. The role is different. Pitching on Saturday, the mindset was to win the series or push the series to a third game. I like the role of Friday because you can start the series off with a win and give your team a chance to get ahead in the series early.”"
In 2014, Trent started 17 games for the Rebels as the regular Saturday starter in the weekend rotation. He recorded a 9-0 record with a 2.05 ERA as he allowed 28 runs – 25 of them earned – through 110.0 innings on the mound. Trent struck out 86 and walked only 20 on the season, while turning in one complete game, a shutout, and held his opponents to a .233 batting average all season. Trent added 13 quality starts as the Rebels posted a 13-4 record with the lefty on the mound. He picked up his nine wins against Steston, Georgia State, Missouri, Auburn (complete-game shutout), No. 7 LSU, Kentucky, Texas A&M and No. 14 Washington. However, there was major controversy last season as to why Bianco did not start his best rotation pitcher in the SEC Tournament.
Trent started three games in the NCAA Tournament, with the Rebels picking up wins in all three games despite Trent recording a “W” in all three. He started against No. 14 Washington during the Oxford Regional, working 6.1 innings and allowing one run on five hits with six strikeouts and a walk. Trent also had a huge start against No. 1 Louisiana-Lafayette in the Lafayette Super-Regional, working 7.0 innings with one unearned run on four hits with two walks and tying a season-high with seven strikeouts. RHP Aaron Greenwood picked up the win that night against the Cajuns, keeping the Rebels alive in Super-Regional, but it was Trent’s performance that most Rebel faithful remember.
In the 2014 College World Series, Trent started in an elimination game against Texas Tech, working 8.0 scoreless IP with a walk and six strikeouts to help the Rebels stay alive at the CWS.
Smith returns as a senior for the Rebels. He started in 18 games on the mound last season as the regular Sunday starter in the weekend rotation for the third consecutive season. Smith posted a 5-4 record with a 3.61 ERA as he allowed 47 runs – 38 of them earned – through 94.2 innings of work. He turned in nine quality starts in 2014, struck out 54 and walked only 21. He picked up his five wins against Stetson, UCF, UALR, Auburn, and at No. 13 Mississippi State, which crowned the Rebels the series winners over the Bulldogs. His four losses came at No. 1 South Carolina, at Alabama, No. 7 LSU, and Arkansas. Smith worked a season-long 7.1 innings in the loss against No. 7 LSU, allowing two runs on five hits with a walk and four strikeout, and stuck out a season-high five batters twice: at No. 1 South Carolina and in the win over Auburn.
Smith started three games in the NCAA Tournament, against No. 14 Washington during the Oxford Regional, at No. 1 Louisiana-Lafayette during the Lafeyette Super-Regional, and No. 2 TCU during the CWS, but took no decision in any outing despite the Rebels winning all three games. He worked 4.2 innings and allowed two unearned runs against No. 14 Washington in the NCAA Regional Championship game that sent the Rebels to the Super-Regional Tournament. Smith worked 3.2 innings and allowed two earned runs in game three of the NCAA Super Regional. Senior RHP Scott Weathersby picked up the win and RHP Josh Laxer closed the game with a save. The win crowned the Rebels as the 2014 Lafayette Super-Regional Champions and granted Ole Miss a College World Series berth for the first time in 42 years.
Smith started an elimination game against No. 2 TCU, working 3.1 innings and allowing three runs on four hits with three walks and three strikeouts in the game the Rebels would eventually win, keeping themselves alive to reach the final four of the CWS.
So, we know when Bianco says Johnson is cleared to start, the weekend rotation will like appear as followed: