USC baseball coach Ray Tanner is going to start junior right hander Blake Cooper tomorrow night against Alabama. The Edisto native is 8-4 with a 4.61 ERA this season. Tanner is known to change his mind when it comes to his pitchers so freshman lefty Adam Westmoreland could have an outside shot of sliding into the starting role Wednesday night. That is doubtful though because Tanner has stressed he would prefer to go with the more experienced Cooper over a true freshman. Some of you might be wondering why reigning SEC pitcher of the week Sam Dyson isn’t starting the tournament opener. The answer is quite simple.
Tanner wants to keep him on his normal schedule of one week between starts. Pushing Cooper up to the midweek enables him to keep Dyson and Belcher pitching on the same days they did last week against Georgia. This is the kind of luxury coach’s have in the conference tournament when they know their team is a lock to play in a regional. There is no need to put any unneeded strain Dyson’s arm for a game that in the big picture will mean very little for USC. I know some Gamecock fans are holding on to hope that the team will win the tournament and get to host a regional next week. I’m not saying that is completely unrealistic but the bottom line is the risk isn’t worth the reward. Plus Cooper and Westmoreland will have to be factors this postseason if the Gamecocks are going to make any sort of run. A deep pitching staff is crucial in late May and early June in college baseball.