Ohio State entered the season as the favorite to win the Big Ten conference for the second-consecutive year.
With nine Big Ten games remaining, the Buckeyes sit in a tie for second place in the conference and are certainly within striking distance of their goal.
More consistent pitching would certainly help reach it.
Though ace Alex Wimmers has yet to lose an outing this season, his fellow pitchers have been less reliable.
Wimmers is 9-0 on the season; the rest of the pitching staff is 15-15.
Wimmers has allowed only one run in each Big Ten game. The Buckeyes are allowing an average of nine runs in Big Ten games without him.
“We’ve got to get some other people to be a little more productive,” coach Bob Todd said.
That need has escalated with Wimmers’ recent hamstring injury. Though his status is still uncertain, it seems likely that he will miss time, potentially as much as three weeks according to team spokesman Jerry Emig.
The Buckeyes will have to lean on their other starters for the time being.
Drew Rucinski, currently the second starter, would be the clear favorite to step into Wimmers’ role. Rucinski picked up his first Big Ten win in his last start against Michigan to move to 1-2 in the conference and 4-2 overall.
His struggles can be attributed to blisters on his throwing hand, according to Todd, who has stressed the importance of getting Rucinski healthy.
Though healthy, third starter Dean Wolosiansky has also had an up-and-down year. The junior, who won 12 games a year ago, is 3-5 on the season with a 5.50 ERA, 7.71 in Big Ten play.
Despite the problems the two starters have had, catcher Dan Burkhart is not about to point fingers.
“We’re going to win as a team and we’re going to lose as a team,” Burkhart said. “It’s hard to point one thing out but we just need to make plays and keep scoring runs.”
Wimmers might not be able to mask the rest of the staff’s struggles the rest of the way.
Still, the rotation’s output has kept the Buckeyes among the contenders for the conference crown.
“Pitchers haven’t maybe had as much success as they would like but we’ve faced some people who are pretty outstanding at the plate,” Todd said. “Overall if the pitching staff hadn’t done what we thought they were going to do, I don’t think we’d be sitting here (near the top of the league).”