Early in this countdown, we talked about Bryce Montes de Oca. He is clearly the wild card on Missouri’s pitching staff. If he can prove that he should be in their weekend rotation from day one, he has the stuff to be an ace, but if his struggles with command continue, it will be tough for him to hold down a role on the staff.
Tanner Houck is the sure-fire prospect. He burst onto the scene with a huge freshman season last year (8-5, 3.49, 91/12 K/BB) and his summer spent with Collegiate Team USA certainly didn’t do anything to tamper the excitement surrounding one of the best pitching prospects in the 2017 draft class.
Reggie McClain doesn’t boast electric stuff and he’s not a blue-chip MLB Draft prospect, but he is nothing short of a steady, quintessential college pitcher.
McClain came to Columbia prior to last season by way of the University of Georgia, where he redshirted in 2012 and then State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, where he flashed a sub-2.00 ERA in his last season on campus.
McClain was a part of the Mizzou rotation from day one in 2015, and he was clearly intent on not giving that spot up. He took the ball for the Tigers on opening day and promptly went out and threw eight shutout innings with ten strikeouts. Sure one could say that it was “only” Iona, but McClain went on to back up that performance with a number of others during the course of the season.
Against Georgia, he threw a complete game, giving up just six hits and one run. The next weekend against South Carolina, he allowed just five hits and two runs over 8.1 innings. Against Alabama, he allowed just one earned run in 8.2 innings. Pitching against Mississippi, he threw seven innings, giving up just four hits and two earned runs. He came up big when it mattered most as well. In a must-win game to open Missouri’s SEC Tournament, McClain tossed seven innings, allowing six hits and just one unearned run with no walks and four strikeouts in the team’s 5-1 win.
All told, he ended the season with a 7-7 record and a 3.56 ERA. In 101 innings of work, he struck out 80, and most importantly, walked just 19. McClain wasn’t and is never going to be the most overpowering pitcher on the mound, but he’s not going to walk batters and he’s not going to give in to anyone.
Setting up the rotation for 2016, McClain would be a nice complement to Houck and Montes de Oca. Both of the latter pitchers have power repertoires. Placing a command-minded pitcher with less raw stuff, like McClain, would provide a change of pace from the other two, and together, if all goes well, that trio could make for one of the best rotations in the SEC.
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