The Rice baseball starting rotation was a mixed bag in 2021. When things were good, they were really good, but the volatility was real.
The 2021 starting rotation wasn’t up to the high standards that Rice baseball has come to know. There were moments when each of these four primary starters turned heads, but Rice never truly had one weekend where each guy was throwing well. Here’s a rundown on how each guy faired in his role this season.
6-5 Record | 6.53 ERA | 62.0 innings | 57 strikeouts | 17 walks | .320 batting average against
The Owls knew they would need reinforcements in the rotation prior to the season. That was one of the driving reasons Holcomb was brought in as a grad transfer. By most measures, his addition was a success.
Consistency wasn’t his forte, but he had enough high points to balance out the off days. He went seven innings while allowing one or fewer runs three times. On the other hand, he allowed six runs or more without making it out of the fourth inning on three occasions. In an ideal world, Holcomb would have been an ideal No. 3 or No. 4. Instead, he was the 1A to Garcia’s 1B at the top of the rotation.
1-5 Record | 5.87 ERA | 53.2 innings | 36 strikeouts | 16 walks | .311 batting average against
Almost two years removed from meaningful action, Garcia was eased into the 2021 season slowly. Unfortunately, he never built up the longevity the Owls’ bullpen would require. He completed six innings just once while watching his once sterling strikeout to walk ratio dwindle from 45-to-6 in 2018 to 36-to-14 this year.
For whatever reason, Garcia didn’t quite reach the heights he was capable of pre-injury. He was okay, but never quite elite, and never carrying the staff as the ace many hoped he would grow to be. That’s not to say he can’t still reach those expectations someday. But it wasn’t in the cards this season.
3-5 Record | 5.07 ERA | 71.0 innings | 59 strikeouts | 21 walks | .317 batting average against
Perhaps more so than anyone else on the staff, Brogdon married consistency with production the best. Outside of an off day against a potent UTSA offense, he consistently went deep into games, worked through traffic and got big outs. His development over the last year has been extremely encouraging, giving reason to believe he has more growth left in the tank.
Brogdon was the only starter to throw more than 62 innings, averaging just under six innings per appearance, and that included three relief outings. He also gets the added distinction of being at his best as the season neared its end, giving the Owls a chance to win each of his final starts when they needed wins the most.
3-4 Record | 3.88 ERA | 53.1 innings | 73 strikeouts | 29 walks | .213 batting average against
Deskins never really had the distance one would have liked to have seen out of a starter, but he excelled in a tandem role. He was frequently able to get throw a lineup once with minimal to no damage. Walks were an issue at times, but a high strikeout rate and timely pitching in big moments got him out of some of his own self-made troubles.
He certainly has the stuff to be a starter and develop the length aspect of his game over time. He’d also make a pretty fearsome reliever if he can master his command. Either way, Deskins will be a big piece of the Rice baseball pitching staff moving forward.
Others on the bump
Six other Owls had at least one start in 2021. Those starts spanned a couple of midweek games and a handful of stints as “openers” during conference play. Each of those pitchers saw at seven relief appearances, making the majority of their impact out of the pen rather than as starters.