Stony Brook Baseball senior pitcher Chad Lee, the America East leader in earned run average this season, missed his last start due to forearm soreness, according to head coach Matt Senk.
“He hasn’t been 100 percent,” Senk said. “If we feel a player can use some rest to get themselves feeling better, then that’s what we do.”
The injury, which Senk declined to detail further, comes at an inopportune time for Lee, who has not allowed an earned run in his last 31 innings pitched. Lee’s 1.00 earned run average ranks fifth in all of NCAA Division-I Baseball.
Senk did confirm that Lee is on track to start on Saturday, the first game of a three-game conference series against UMBC. There will be no restrictions for Lee in his return to the mound, but the senior’s ailment will be monitored closely as he looks to continue his scoreless streak.
“I feel like I can still go out there,” Lee said. “But I know it’s important that I am 100 percent for conference play [this weekend].”
Showing supreme confidence is not something new for Lee, who always thought he could make it in the rotation, but understood that he needed to do whatever he could to help his team.
Lee spent over three years as a relief pitcher, posting a 3.13 earned run average in 40 appearances through his junior season. He showed that he could handle starting games on occasion, as he started four games over the span, but could never stick in the Seawolves’ regular pitching rotation.
After pitching four efficient innings in relief to earn the win at UMBC on March 18, Senk decided to give Lee his first start of 2016 against Creighton at the site of the 2012 College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska. Lee did not allow an earned run in 5.2 innings against a Creighton team that currently sits atop the Big East standings.
“I told myself, ‘I’m basically doing [the same thing] from the first inning,’” Lee said. “When you know what day you’re pitching, it’s kind of hard to complain with that.”
Since converting into a full-time member of the team’s pitching rotation over a month ago, he has yet to allow an earned run to an opposing team and he looks to continue that run.
When this rotation is healthy, it is far and away the best rotation in the America East. Behind Lee, the team starts freshman pitcher Bret Clarke, whose 2.04 earned run average sits second in the conference behind his teammate. The duo comes in addition to senior pitcher Tyler Honahan, who was a first-team All-America East honoree in 2015.
A pitching rotation this dominant is a valuable commodity and gives Senk confidence with the America East Tournament now less than a month away.
“We have done a really tremendous job [pitching] in conference,” Senk said. “Any time you get into a tournament situation, strong pitching is vital to being successful.”