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Virginia Tech Rotation Impressing To Start Season

Photo Credit: Virginia Tech Athletics

After getting within one win of Omaha at the end of a record setting 2022, the hammerin' Hokies fell on hard times in 2023. The lineup was still as lethal as ever, but the pitching fell off a cliff. The staff as a whole gave up over an earned run more in 2023 than the 2022 staff and starters Anthony Arguelles and Drue Hackenberg were often asked to go beyond their effectiveness because the bullpen was struggling to record outs. The Hokies entered 2024 with another fearsome lineup but low expectations as a team due to last year's pitching woes.

Virginia Tech is fifteen games into the new season and the revamped pitching staff has been impressive. The lineup is performing as expected despite the loss of star first baseman Garrett Michel to injury. But the biggest surprise-- and the primary source of their success-- has been the early season performances of Tech's three weekend starters.

The trio of Brett Renfrow, Wyatt Parliament, and Griffin Stieg are a combined 8-1 over their 12 starts with a 2.95 ERA and 65 strikeouts over 61 innings pitched. Against Notre Dame this past weekend, the strong Irish lineup managed to score just four earned runs against the Tech starters. Renfrow and Parliament each had 10 strikeouts while only walking one batter apiece.

The Hokies rotation is anchored by a freshman, reminiscent of that 2022 rotation that was led by Drue Hackenberg. This year's edition is led by 6'3" righthander Brett Renfrow. The Manassas native is getting the ball every Friday night as the staff ace and exceeding expectations. He's won all four games that he's started and his 1.88 ERA and .179 opposing batting average are each good for 6th in the ACC. Renfrow's 24 innings pitched leads the conference and he's 6th with 29 strikeouts. His experience and confidence grows with each start and it's not out of the realm of possibility that he could actually improve on these statistics.

Wyatt Parliament, a transfer from Rutgers, started for the Scarlet Knights as a freshman but worked more as an opener over his 34.1 innings of work. In 2023, he almost exclusively used as a reliever and sported a 5.00 ERA with 31 strikeouts over 27 innings pitched. He's been more impressive than his 3.72 ERA suggests and actually is ahead of Renfrow with an opposing batting average of .171, good for fifth in the ACC. His experience has been essential to his early success and will only help him grind out results moving forward.

Of the three weekend starters, Griffin Stieg is the lone returner from last year's roster. Like teammate Renfrow, Stieg is 6'3" righthander from Northern Virginia. He had a forgettable freshman year for that beleaguered Hokie staff. Stieg appeared in 16 games and sported a 6.75 ERA but has been very good in three of his four starts this year. He's 2-1 with a 3.57 ERA and his .224 opposing batting average is good for Top 20 in the conference. After giving up 5 earned runs against Charlotte on Opening Weekend, the McLean High School star has gone at least 5 innings in every start since and only given up 2 earned runs over those three games. He gives the Hokies a chance every time out on Sunday.

Beyond the weekend rotation, the pitching staff as a whole has actually been pretty fantastic overall. The Hokies are 4th in the ACC with a 3.72 ERA and 3rd in walks allowed. They staff has thrown just 6 wild pitches and hit only 9 batters, good for best and second best in the conference, respectively. And they've played some challenging lineups such as Charlotte and James Madison in non-conference. Virginia Tech swept a Notre Dame team that was coming off an NCAA division one leading 15 home run performance the weekend prior.

If the Hokies continue to get this kind of production out of their starting rotation and continued competence from the bullpen, then they become one of the most dangerous teams in the ACC. Not many would've picked them to make the tournament this season and some may even have had them even missing the ACC tournament. And yet a big performance this weekend at Louisville could see Virginia Tech start conference play 5-1 or even 6-0. If that happens, the voices making comparisons to the 2022 team will only grow louder.

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