MSU Media Day: Wes Johnson

New Mississippi State pitching coach Wes Johnson speaks about his staff as they prepare for the 2016 season.

On what he expects out of the closer role…

“We have some viable candidates. We are looking at Reid Humphreys, who has come out and established himself on the mound right now. Blake Smith can do some things as well. I like our options back there. Jacob Billingsley has a power slider and is throwing the ball really well right now. It has been my experience that you need two, if not three (guys who can close). College baseball today is not like the big leagues where you have one guy who just throws the ninth inning. You may need someone to come in with the game on the line in the fifth. You may burn him, so you need somebody else to come in there in the ninth. I like having multiple closers. Over the years, that is how I have treated it.”

On how Elih Marrero has handled the pitching staff…

“Phenomenally. He defines ‘competitor.’ Is he young and does he still have some things to work on? Absolutely. His competitiveness makes up for a lot of things that he is not ready for.”

On the pitching rotation and getting pitchers time on the mound…

“I talk to our guys every day about prioritizing. We do a good job here of putting them against a lot of live hitters. We have a lot of talented arms on this staff.”

On Austin Sexton…

“One of the things I am excited about with Austin is that we have given him a breaking ball. I believe that will get him deeper into games. His poise on the mound is something that I have pointed to a lot this year. He is a good role model in how he handles the game.”

On Dakota Hudson…

“When I got here, one of the first things I did was get Dakota a defined routine. Guys like Dakota need a routine. He had a phenomenal start last night, and I hope he can continue that. His routine has helped him get comfortable.”

On Zac Houston…

“We are going to give Zac a chance to start. He has done it two weeks in a row. He will go again today. He has been phenomenal. When you look at a staff like this and the talent we have, you wonder how you can get 50 innings out of Zac Houston or whoever. The answer is to find out what role they do. A closer needs to recover quickly. Zac’s arm takes longer to recover. If you start him, you give his arm that time it needs to recover, then he is able to do more for our ballclub.”

On his transition from Dallas Baptist to Mississippi State…

“It’s baseball. You better prepare. If I have learned anything here at MSU, it is that you have a lot more fan support. It is great to have people at scrimmages to get guys used to it.”

On the importance of having swing-and-miss pitchers…

“It is something you better teach. It is something you better have in the bullpen and something that your starters should be able to do.”

I have covered Mississippi State in some capacity since 2004 and joined the Daily Journal staff in 2013. I enjoy short walks on the beach, performing concerts in my car and watching professional wrestling.

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