Although Becker took the field Tuesday to close against North Florida, it appeared as if he would still be fit to start against Ole Miss. However, Aidan Hunter took the mound for game one against the Rebels followed by Noah Hall and Will Sanders in game two and three.
Matthew Becker did see playtime, but once again as a reliever for games two and three. The Gamecocks were pummeled 7-1 in game one but took game two and walked off to win the series Saturday.
Kingston’s use of Becker as a reliever seemed to be successful this week. He closed out North Florida Tuesday night, a game where our bats were far more quiet than they should have been (seems to be the story for the midweek).
He was able to close out Ole Miss as well in game two after Noah Hall, a game where the Gamecocks only held a two run lead. In Game 3 he struggled and had a little bit of trouble closing out the Rebels as he gave up 4 runs.
Becker then had to be replaced by Cade Austin who got the Gamecocks out of the inning and allowed them to walk the Rebels off in the bottom of the 9th.
Is keeping Becker in the bullpen a better move than having three strong starters for an SEC series? If Becker is used to close out tight games I would say it could be a possibility; but certainly not if it is the same way he was used against Georgia.
So far, Aidan Hunter has not proved his worth as a starter against SEC opponents. Hunter gave up 7 runs against Ole Miss and 5 runs in 3 innings against Georgia, a game where our bats were hot but the Georgia lead was too big too early.
Basically, with Becker in the pen Carolina has a BETTER chance at closing out the remaining mid week games (closing has definitely been in issue in these contests) and can put up a full pitching performance in two out of three of the remaining SEC series.
On the other hand, Carolina can keep sticking with Becker, Hall, and Sanders, but any close game will be placed in jeopardy since our relief pitching has been a struggle this entire season. As for mid-week games, we would just have to rely on our bats which have been very inconsistent during these games.
Personally it’s hard at this point to tell if one option is better than the other because there are so many “what ifs.” Another closer may not have been able to close out Ole Miss Friday night as Becker did, but at the same time, Becker could have pitched a better game than Hunter Thursday night.
One thing is for certain: a change needed to be made because the Gamecocks have dropped too many mid week games and have lost several series they shouldn’t have.
Will this be the right decision? (If Kingston decides to roll with this rotation) that’s for the weeks to come to decide.