Texas would get the nod in this category if lefthanded pitcher Dillon Peters was healthy. However, that’s not the case and the Cougars have the overall edge in terms of starting pitching.
Though the Longhorns entered the Houston Regional last weekend without Peters, they still did a tremendous job on the mound with righthanded pitchers Nathan Thornhill and Parker French, and surprising Chad Hollingsworth leading the charge, while another talented righty, Luke Schiraldi also showed glimpses of an elite arm.
Thornhill is a talented righty who typically will sit anywhere from 88-92 with good pitchability and secondary stuff. Thornhill is poised, a veteran and is tough to rattle, as evidenced by his outstanding senior season and his performance in the Houston Regional, where he struck out seven and allowed just a run in seven innings in a tournament-opening win over Texas A&M.
The Longhorns have used French, another righty, in a variety of roles down the stretch, both as a reliever and starting pitcher. But after his performance against Rice last weekend, combined with French’s injury, it’s safe to suggest he will stick in the weekend rotation. French has a hard-nosed approach and isn’t afraid to attack hitters with his sinking stuff, particularly a fastball that sits upper-80s and into the low-90s, but tends to play up at times.
Then there’s Schiraldi. Schiraldi allowed two runs (one earned) in just 3 1/3 innings against Texas A&M in the Houston Regional. Schiraldi has a big-time arm with a fastball anywhere from 89-93, with the ability to touch 94, while he possesses a good breaking ball. The problem? Schiraldi tends to have command issues at times, as evidenced by his four walks in that outing against the Aggies.
As for the Cougars, this truly is one of the better rotations in the country, especially when you dissect No. 1 and No. 2 starting pitchers, both righthanders, Aaron Garza and Jake Lemoine.
Garza isn’t an overpowering pitcher by any means, recording just 57 strikeouts in 104 1/3 innings this spring, but is very consistent with his approach and overall stuff with a 2.67 ERA in 104 1/3 innings. Garza will sat mid-to-upper 80s, bumping 90, with his fastball, while his slider is the go-to secondary offering.
Lemoine is the biggest arm on this staff. The talented righty, who will play for Team USA this summer, has a 2.65 ERA in 102 innings. Lemoine has electric stuff at times consistently sitting 93-95 with his fastball and offering a wipeout slider in spurts. However, Lemoine, at least not yet, isn’t the type of overpowering force who misses a ton of bats. With that said, Lemoine absolutely has the ability to go out there this weekend and throw up eight or nine zeroes in the run column.
The Cougars’ third option boils down to righthanded pitchers David Longville and Andrew Lantrip. Longville was very solid against LSU a few days ago, allowing a run in five innings and tallying an overall ERA of 2.88 ERA in 59 1/3 innings. Command is Longville’s forte. Meanwhile, Lantrip was one of the state’s top prospects out of high school and is meeting expectations with a 1.87 ERA in 43 1/3 innings.