Western Kentucky also has won its last three games after sweeping Bowling Green State to start the season. The Bisons are 3-1 after losing the season opener with Dayton.
Sophomore left-hander Chris Nunn is expected to get the start for the Bisons. It will be his second appearance of the season.
The Bisons used 12 pitchers in four games. That is the plan that coach Jeff Forehand wants to continue this season with the starters keeping things close and the bullpen finishing the games.
Forehand knows that fans are interested in starters Richie Goodenow, Connor Sinclair, Dannie Strable and Benjamin Johnson. But Forehand thinks the strength of the bullpen could make the difference in the Bisons level of success this season.
The starting rotation will also get a lift when Davey Hackett is able to return to the rotation.
Right-hander Mike Grace had the longest relief stint throwing 5.2 innings on the way to the 4-3 win over Bradley Saturday in 13 innings.
“Mike Grace is going to come in there and throw strikes,” Forehand said. “Grace is consistent. He has to be a competitor on the mound.
“Mike’s role is perfect if he can pitch in long relief. If a starter comes out and is having a bad outing Mike can come in and stop the bleeding.”
Forehand and pitching coach Tyler Shrout are stressing to all of the relievers that it is all about being in the moment, not worrying about the next inning.
“If we bring a pitcher in for the sixth we want that pitcher to get three outs, win the sixth and get us to the seventh,” Forehand said. “If that pitcher is still going good we will put him back out for one or two batters in the seventh. And if a left-hander comes up we will go to another guy.”
Left-handers out of the bullpen will be Alex Ross, Nunn, Gil Rehwinkel and Blake Fonfara. The right-handers are Josh Chism, Chris Orphanos, Will Blalock, Chad Fromm, Grace, Tyler Newhart, Josh Cotham, Erik Natusch and Martin Grude.
“It’s not like we have got guys who are shut down stoppers,” Forehand said. “They are all about the same. So let’s put them in the position to be successful.
“We have four left-handers in the pen and a bunch of right-handers. When we get to the seventh we need to start matching them up with hitters. Hopefully, somebody will emerge and we will hold that pitcher until the ninth.”
Forehand is looking for the right mentality in his closer.
“I’m anxious to see who is going to pick up on that and be our guy in the ninth,” Forehand said. “We have to have everybody who comes in thinking like they are closers. We want them to close the sixth, the seventh and the eighth. But it will get to the point where we find our go-to guy in the ninth.”
The Bisons remain at home this weekend when Marshall visits for a three-game series with single games Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.