Ross Mitchell has been doing yeoman’s work on the mound this season for No. 22 Mississippi State. You can read about it in today’s Journal.
Mitchell and the Bulldogs (33-13, 10-11 SEC) open a three-game home series against Alabama (27-18, 11-9) at 6 p.m. today. I caught up with Mitchell (8-0, 0.93 ERA) a couple of days ago and had a good chat about his season and the expanded role he’s taken on. The sophomore left-hander taken long relief to a whole new level, averaging just over three innings per appearance.
I have some excerpts from my interview for you here.
Do you ever stop and think about being 8-0?
“Naw. Most of it’s just kind of getting lucky. A couple of wins I’ve gotten through five or six innings, but sometimes – I gave up one run in one of them and ended up we came back in the next inning, and I got the win. It’s just kind of however the dice rolls.”
Do you feel like a starter in some ways because of the innings you’ve logged?
“Yeah, I mean, I’ve got the second-most innings on the team right now. So I’ve gotten to throw a lot, which I’ve enjoyed. I guess I would almost rather get to throw Tuesday and the weekend and have a lot of innings than I would maybe just throwing once a weekend.”
How different is your routine between appearances compared to other relievers?
“I haven’t really thrown any bullpens at all. I would’ve last year, but I don’t even know that I’ve thrown a bullpen this year, because usually in between I’m just trying to get my arm back and ready to go.”
Does not being a high-velocity guy help you avoid fatigue?
“I feel like if I threw any harder, I probably wouldn’t be able to bounce back the way I do. I think the slowness of my pitches helps me bounce back. I guess I’m getting rewarded a little bit for not having velocity.”
You’re a good change of pace, and it proves you don’t have to have electric stuff to succeed.
“Yeah. A lot of people that throw 92, 93, that’s what a lot of teams are used to seeing every day, especially in the SEC. If you’re one of those guys and you just put it somewhere easy to hit, they’re going to make you pay for it most of the time. Just being able to switch their routine up and throw off their timing has helped me be effective so far.”
How have y’all tried to encourage starters when they struggle?
“We always expect them to go farther in the game. There’s been times, especially in the mid-week, where I’ve had to get up a lot earlier than I really wanted to. We trust them, we think they’re going to get the job done. But if something happens, we’re always there. There’s other guys that can do the same thing I’ve been doing. I’ve just been put in that role this year. We’re here to try to keep the game where it is and help our team stay in it.”
Y’all know what’s at stake the next three weekends, including a chance to host an NCAA regional.
“We definitely want to host, especially after seeing all the people that came out for the last Auburn game. We just want to be able to get another crowd out like that to help us to win a few games in the regionals. Vanderbilt’s a real good team; they played better than us that weekend. But I feel like if we get to being ourselves and not trying to do too much, we can easily win these next three series. I think that’s important.”