Jack Leggett knew it might take this young Clemson baseball team awhile to find some answers but the veteran coach probably did not expect his team to bring a 6-8 overall mark (0-3 ACC) into this weekend’s home series against Boston College (6-8, 0-3), which opens at 6:30 p.m. today at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
While most observers understood the Tigers offense would be down this season, the bullpen has also been a liability over the last week. Clemson blew leads in the seventh inning or later twice against North Carolina last weekend and Clemson was also unable to hold to an early lead at Western Carolina on Thursday as David Haselden allowed four runs out of the bullpen in an 8-4 loss. Clemson is 1-5 in one run games, another record that typically speaks to bullpen struggles.
Still, there are potential candidates to solidify Clemson’s late-game bullpen.
Leggett likes Scott Firth out of the bullpen.
Firth has excellent arm speed and can get his fastball up to 94 mph. Leggett believes Firth performs better out of the bullpen where, unlike a start, he doesn’t have as much time to think about an upcoming performance.
Firth has been used in a variety of roles at Clemson but his power arm – 17 strikeouts in 13 innings – and 1.35 ERA suggest he has the potential to be a back-end relief pitcher, if not a closer.
Another intriguing power arm that does not yet have a defined role is freshman Daniel Gossett. Gossett can get his fastball into the mid 90s and was drafted in the 16th round by the Boston Red Sox last June before enrolling at Clemson.
Gossett earned a start at Western Carolina on Thursday, allowing four runs in three innings. Leggett has also said a back-end bullpen role is a possibility for him, similar to the way Clemson broke in former pitcher Scott Weismann.
Clemson needs to solidify its bullpen and to a larger extent its pitching staff because with a depleted offense there’s no longer much margin for error.