P Riley McCauley named to preseason all-conference team

Michigan State relief pitcher Riley McCauley was named to the Perfect Game Preseason All-Conference Team on Thursday. McCauley, a junior, spent the majority of the 2017 season as a closer for the Spartans. He also closed for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox of the Cape Cod League and won the league’s Russ Ford Outstanding Relief Pitcher Award.

McCauley averaged just under two strikeouts per inning a season ago. He racked up 49 punch-outs in 25.2 innings of work.

His power arm will play a key role in the Spartans’ rotation this season. After starting the Crosstown Showdown against the Lansing Lugnuts, it’s clear head coach Jake Boss Jr. looks to extend his role and make him a starter. The only question that remains is if he’ll be locked into his starting role, or if he’ll serve in both starter and closer jobs at some point throughout the 54-game season.

MSU lacks a clear-cut workhorse on the mound. McCauley, regardless of where he’s used, will have to fill the shoes that Alex Troop–now in the Washington Nationals system–filled for the Spartans. If Spartans lack depth in the bullpen, expect to see an ace-by-committee system, as more than one Spartan will have to lead the charge while McCauley tends to the later innings of ball games.

McCauley was the only Spartan to be named on the list.

The Spartans begin their season on the road in Fresno, Calif. against the Fresno State Bulldogs on Feb. 16.