Although the youthful Ole Miss baseball roster is talented from top to bottom, what sets the Rebels apart this season comes out of the bullpen. The team’s 20-2 record is a testament to the unbelievable pitching rotation Mike Bianco has and its ability to shut down opposing hitters.
Led by a three-headed monster, potential top-10 pick and Friday-night starter Ryan Rolison joins Brady Feigl and James McArthur, who rank second and fifth, respectively, in the SEC in ERA, on Saturday and Sunday
Though Rolison – who entered the year with the eyes of MLB scouts nationwide upon him – posts a 2.37 ERA and started both losses, his 43 strikeouts lead the team. Additionally, the Friday night ace was thrown off of his typical schedule because of rain during his loss at Long Beach State and was tasked with an incohesive game flow against Tennessee.
Feigl, who was named a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball in 2016, posted a 4.08 ERA last season but solidified his Saturday starter spot in the offseason. In 2018, the redheaded right-hander has cut his ERA by more than half and posted a 1.10 over a team-high 32.2 innings pitched. Feigl is the staff’s most pleasant surprise, and an argument could be made that he could go toe-to-toe with any starter in the nation, with the Rebels yet to drop a game when he’s on the mound.
Also sitting undefeated on the year is James McArthur, who has battled toughly through some long Sunday innings en route to his dominant 1.35 ERA. The 6-foot-7 junior is coming off six scoreless innings in the opening SEC series against Tennessee and has attacked opposing hitters all season. More impressively, the veteran’s poise has held opposing hitters at bay by keeping the game boring when necessary and throwing at, rather than around, them.
Succeeding McArthur against Tennessee was the bullpen’s hottest reliever, Parker Caracci. He struck out six of the nine batters he faced in the Sunday finale, and Caracci now boasts a preposterous 26-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio on the year. Having thrown 12.2 innings on the year, he couples his hitter dominance with a 0.71 ERA and two wins.
Beyond its statistical leaders, Ole Miss’ arms never falter. The team ranks fifth nationally in team ERA. Houston Roth has not lost a midweek start. Freshman Jordan Fowler has allowed 0.68 runs over 13.1 innings. Max Cioffi and Connor Green have yet to allow a run in a combined nine relief innings. Will Stokes, Will Ethridge, Austin Miller and Greer Holston are reliable, and Dallas Woolfolk, though not perfect to date, can be one of the nation’s top closers.
Though there is no denying that Ole Miss has shelled its fair share of opponents offensively, the truth is that the team’s success begins on the mound. The Rebels have allowed more than four runs in only three of 22 games this season. It isn’t that the Rebels are entirely reliant on their pitching; however, in hotly contested games, it is certainly the difference.
Opening a three-game series at Texas A&M on Thursday night, Rolison will take the mound after six days rest, with Feigl looking to continue his case for the title of “team ace” Saturday and McArthur aiming for continued perfection Sunday.