McKinney out for 2017 … nney-2017/

Oh NO!

It will be interesting to see where Arkansas turns for a third starter. The obvious candidates are Josh Alberius and Dominic Taccolini, although I think coaches still would like to see Taccolini come out of the bullpen as a closer or long reliever.

Some other options are JUCO transfer Trevor Stephan, who was a mid-round draft pick of the Red Sox last summer and has looked good in scrimmages, and Barrett Loseke, who started some SEC games last year. I get the impression that Loseke is more of a bullpen candidate.

This also will affect the midweek starters. There was some thought that McKinney may start in the midweek if he wasn’t on Sunday. Some other candidates in the midweek include left-handers Kacey Murphy and Evan Lee.

Gut punch

I was thinking that a lot of possible success this year might depend on Taccolini and McKinney. And based on last year, that worried me. I was hoping the new coach would have a big effect on them. I guess we will see what he has been able to do with the returning and new guys.

I hope McKinney can recover and come back better than ever.

I agree with Matt that coaches hoped to use Taccolini in the bullpen. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see him end up as a starter. Trevor Stephen was the newcomer who impressed me the most in the fall. I would think it’s between those two for the third weekend spot. Josh Alberius is a strike thrower, one of the keys for a starter. He can eat up some innings. But I like that out of the bullpen, too. He’s a guy who can come in with runners on and throw strikes, something easier said than done.

I’ll be interested to see if he comes back at all. His upside still is high and a professional team still might offer him a lot of money this summer. Pro teams like to get pitchers in to work with their doctors and trainers during Tommy John rehab.

I think he was going to be a Sunday starter in the nonconference to see how he handled the situation, but there was a lot of uncertainty as to how and how much he was going to be used. He was inconsistent in the fall, just like last season.

I think there are more quality arms at the team’s disposal this year, including some pretty good left-handers. This team probably can withstand a season-ending injury a little better than could last year’s team.

They started the season last week with 18 pitchers. There are high hopes for all of them. That’s the kind of staff you need in the SEC, and as Matt indicates, more lefties than I recall in a long time, if ever, at Arkansas.

Has Taccolini’s velocity gone up any this year under Johnson’s tutelage? That always seemed to be his Achille’s heel last year. If he added some velocity to his pitch movement, I think he could be special.

His velocity is up. Every pitcher has seen a bump in velo. That’s what players call it, velo. I’m hip.

Do they still call it “hip”?

Taccolini is working around 92-94 and has hit 95 mph.