OSU baseball: Three things to know about the 2021 Cowboys

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OSU baseball: Three things to know about the 2021 Cowboys

Sat, 02/20/2021 - 14:36
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Feb. 19—STILLWATER — Oklahoma State's baseball season likely has to wait a few more days to open.

But with that brings the long-awaited unveiling of O'Brate Stadium.

The Cowboys are no longer traveling to Sam Houston State for a three-game series this weekend due to the winter weather and conditions on campus from the storm. OSU is working to find an alternative opponent.

If not, hello, O'Brate.

OSU is set to open the stadium at 4 p.m. Tuesday against Arkansas-Little Rock.

The Cowboys open the season ranked No. 18 in the USA Today Sports Coaches' Poll. Here are three things to know about the upcoming season:

Deep pitching staff

The Cowboys' entire pitching rotation is back, and there are more options joining the mix.

OSU coach Josh Holliday said his plan this weekend was to start veteran lefty Parker Scott on Friday, righthander Bryce Osmond on Saturday and newcomer Justin Wrobleski, a lefthander who signed with Clemson out of high school but played last season at State College of Florida.

Left-hander Justin Campbell, who was in last season's weekend rotation, is set to start Tuesday in the O'Brate Stadium opener if not needed in long relief.

Holliday said he opted for Campbell to pitch first in the new stadium because he manages his emotions well and he's valuable as a hitter during a weekend series.

"Sometimes, it's a lot to ask a kid to pitch a game and hit all in the same three-game series," Holliday said. "Just to give him the best frame of mind, the best preparation and to ask of him things he can do but not ask too much of him because you gotta keep in mind we're coming back off some inactivity."

Holliday also said veteran Brett Standlee is valuable and will start in the bullpen, likely in some closing duties. Zach Cable and a handful of other quality arms will also round out the bullpen early.

Power returns

The Cowboys return a strong group of hitters.

Max Hewitt batted better than .400 last season, a first for an OSU player since 2007. Caeden Trenkle was a breakout star. Cade Cabbiness improved as well. Hueston Morrill is a proven hitter.

But OSU also brings back two key power hitters.

Carson McCusker and Alix Garcia both return.

Their numbers were down in the shortened 2020 season, combining for three homers. But the veteran duo can provide some major thump in the heart of the order.

They combined for 14 homers and 24 doubles in 2019 for an OSU team that demolished the baseball. McCusker had a .520 slugging percentage and Garcia slugged .485.

If they can get back to that kind of production, that adds even more pop to the Cowboys' lineup.

Neutral O'Brate?

O'Brate Stadium has nearly identical outfield dimensions as Allie P. Reynolds Stadium, but the gaps are deeper and straight away center field is 402 feet.

How the ball carries will depend on the day.

If the wind is blowing out, it can become a hitter's park. If not, it's a pitcher's best friend. Other quiet days, it can be a tough task for hitters to use the gaps or hit home runs.

"We built a field that we thought would reward good pitching, that would require a great center fielder," Holliday said. "It also provides some hitting space down the lines for guys. I think it's a very fair park."

OSU has practiced in the new ballpark since the fall, so Holliday has some ideas of how it'll play.

But seeing how the stadium plays as temperatures rise will be a lot of fun.