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Sunday, June 20, 2021

Sports

Draft stock falling fast for Musick


UH left-hander Wes Musick turned down professional baseball and returned to school for his junior season mostly because he wanted to improve on last season’s performance.

Unfortunately for Musick, he has not been able to rid himself of the issues that plagued him during the second half of 2008. Barring a drastic turnaround, he will not come anywhere near his previous numbers.

Last season, Musick went 8-4 with a 4.35 ERA and team-high 87 strikeouts in 18 appearances (15 starts), but he was only 1-3 with a 6.26 ERA over his final nine appearances (seven starts). After six starts this year, Musick is 1-5 with a 7.80 ERA, with opponents batting .349 off him.

Musick’s latest setback came in Friday’s 6-2 loss to Conference USA rival Tulane. He was roughed up for five runs on six hits and four walks in 3 2/3 innings, adding two wild pitches for good measure.

Musick, who owns two quality starts this season, has a decent amount of strikeouts (33) and a strikeouts-to-walks ratio of 2.75, but he is giving up hits at an alarming rate. His WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) is 1.87, noticeably higher than last season’s WHIP of 1.43.

Of course, like several other UH pitchers, Musick’s performance has been somewhat hindered by the Cougars’ shoddy defense (44 errors in 26 games). Because the defense is so shaky, one can assume that it is likely allowing quite a few routine grounders or pop-ups to be scored as hits because of inadequate fielding. So, let us adjust Musick’s ERA to exclude factors that can be influenced by defense.

The Fielding Independent Pitching statistic, created by sabermatrician Tom Tango, calculates ERA by using the only three factors that a pitcher can truly control (home runs, walks and strikeouts), plus a major league-specific factor (usually 3.20) to bring the result closer to an equivalent ERA. Because pitchers must rely on their defense for other balls hit into play, hits and earned runs are left out of this formula.

Using this formula, Musick’s FIP ERA is 2.63, a significant improvement from his 7.80 ERA. This is intended to show how well he has pitched, regardless of the fielding behind him. Still, that does little for his record or his seemingly falling draft stock.

Musick must turn things around soon in order to give the Cougars (9-17, 4-2 C-USA) a meaningful shot at salvaging their season and to increase his draft stock. With half of the regular season in the books, he does not have much time remaining.

Owls get a scare

With the wealth of pitching depth that Rice has enjoyed during its 18 years under head coach Wayne Graham, the Owls usually have not had to worry much when injuries take out an arm or two.

However, Graham could barely contain his distress after his two top pitchers were shelved last week because of injuries.

The Houston Chronicle reported Saturday that Owls right-hander Ryan Berry (4-0, 1.96 ERA) will likely miss three weeks with muscle tightness in his shoulder. Mike Ojala (1-0 with a 1.38 ERA) missed his last start with muscle tightness in his elbow, but is anticipating a start against Tulane this weekend.

Graham can only hope that the injuries do not become worse.

‘I was scared to death when you’ve got two guys out at once,’ Graham told the Chronicle. ‘I was afraid we’d lose them both, because arms are so crazy.’


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