Geremy Guerrero writes another chapter in storybook season
CARBONDALE, Illinois – If we’re being honest, from the outside, there was no reason to believe Indiana state left-hander Geremy Guerrero was close to being the Missouri Valley Conference’s top pitcher in 2021. .
During his first four seasons on campus, he was a functional but unspectacular swingman on the staff. In 39 appearances heading into the season, including 12 starts, he had a 5.38 ERA in 73.2 innings.
And it’s not like he’s a pitcher with some elite stuff that hasn’t learned how to mine it. On the contrary, Guerrero’s fastball is an 80s mid-range offering that he needs to locate well to be effective, pairing it with a few brittle balls and a change.
Despite all of this, Guerrero has become the undisputed star of the conference this season. In his debut Wednesday against Illinois State in the MVC tournament, he was 9-1 this season with a 1.92 ERA, 93 strikeouts against 12 goals and an opponent’s 0.171 batting average. 84.1 innings.
So what has changed? Basically maybe not much.
“Everyone asks me this question. Everyone thinks there is a key, ”Guerrero said. “I think that’s the highlight of everything I’ve worked on in the offseason, fall, winter, summer when we couldn’t play baseball. I just trusted myself and the other guys that came before me, what they did (to be successful), pick things out of them, pick their brains out a bit, and give it a big deal. part of my success.
But digging a little deeper there are some things you can point out that helped him make the jump. He added a cutter, which now gives him five different locations to shoot: fastball, shift, curve, slider, and cutter. Long story short, he can throw the kitchen sink at the batters.
“He does enough that you have to honor an area, and when you start to be aggressive in that area he can use it against you which is what makes him very effective,” said coach Mitch Hannahs. .
Building on that, he’s now mastered the art of tunneling, allowing him to make all five slots look the same when exiting his hand.
“He’s one of those guys who tunnel everything and everything works together,” Hannahs said. “I think about his first outing against Pitt, when he shut them out, how he pitched in Tennessee, and how well he pitched all year. We’ve played some good clubs and they just don’t seem to be having any good shots on him. And if you sit there and look, it’s like ‘how don’t they do that? “But I think it all comes out of the same spot and he can throw any throw at any time.
A key decision was also made at the start of the season: to double Guerrero’s fastball as a working ground. Although he still averages just under 85 mph this season, he throws the pitch almost 60% of the time, throws it for a strike 77% of the time and uses it to set up everything else. from his repertoire.
“I think at the start of the year, before we start, I think that was not going to be our goal (relying on the fastball),” Guerrero said. “I was going to try to get the guys out with my change and my new cutter.”
All of these improvements combined have allowed Guerrero to dominate the entire season without dominating things. But then again, there’s something to be said about the fact that the Indiana state left is a change of pace from anything you see in varsity baseball in 2021, even at the intermediate level.
“For the college hitters right now who are trained to hit the fastball and hit the fastball and hit the fastball, (like) ‘I don’t care if it’s 100 (mph), I’m going to make it, ‘it’s just a change they’re not used to seeing. I think it makes a sufficient difference in terms of the look that is effective, ”Hannahs said.
Guerrero’s outing on Wednesday, which resulted in a 5-2 victory over Illinois State, was quite on par with what Guerrero has done this season.
He pitched a full game, his second of the season, giving up seven hits and two runs with one step and four strikeouts. It’s not like the Redbirds had no success against him. They had seven hits and a few runs, after all, but there weren’t any extended rallies. The highest number of hitters Guerrero has faced in a frame was five.
It was the tenth time this season that he has pitched at least seven innings, the eleventh time he has allowed two runs or less in an outing, and the tenth time he has allowed a walk or less in a start. It’s also an impressive outing in context, given that every team facing the league’s Pitcher of the Year, like Guerrero was this season, will want to make a statement.
“You (have) seen a lot of pitchers of the year come to this tournament and get their backs up,” Hannahs said. “I think the other team is ready, and you talk about (being) ready for a finesse guy. It’s not like he’s gonna throw something at you. He’s going to put everything in place, he has to mix and match, inside and out.
Guerrero’s season has changed a lot both for the state of Indiana and for himself. The team entered the season without a clear starter on Friday, and he gave them that and more. With Sycamores struggling to get a consistent start behind Guerrero at times, you can argue that his emergence in Friday’s role has as much to do with the squad being able to secure an NCAA tournament bid as anything else.
Personally, with what he’s been up to this season, Guerrero has positioned himself for a shot at playing professional baseball after being passed in each of the past two seasons.
He’s really not the archetypal pitcher that major league organizations are looking for in 2021, but when he’s collecting outs like he’s been doing this season, it’s impossible to focus on what he isn’t. not when he’s doing a great job of maximizing that is.
And who he is, against all odds, is arguably the best pitcher in MVC.
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