OU baseball: Jordan John becomes Friday night ace
After starting the season as the Sooners' closer, lefty has thrived in the rotation's No. 1 spot.
NORMAN — Oklahoma baseball coach Sunny Golloway suggests a late addition to the Big 12's roll call of acknowledged aces: his own Jordan John.
As it is, Oklahoma State's Andrew Heaney, Texas A&M's Michael Wacha and Baylor's Josh Turley command the bulk of the buzz in a league deep in quality pitching. And for good reason, with that trio a combined 24-1 this season.
But John's been stout, too, ranking tied for third in the league in wins (8) — with the aforementioned Big Three — fourth in innings pitched (102 2/3) and fifth in strikeouts (92).
So where's the love for John?
It's coming, if delayed … by Golloway himself.
John started the season as the Sooners' closer and worked exclusively out of the bullpen until the second week of Big 12 play.
“If anything,” Golloway said, “I did Jordan a disservice by not allowing him to be our Friday night guy after the year he had last year.
“But I told him, ‘You're so calm, you're so poised, you're going to be our best closer.'”
The Sooners seemed stacked with quality arms for the rotation, yet lacked a back-end guy to drop the hammer on wins. And John fit the description, because of his stuff and his mentality.
“He wants to be in the spotlight,” Golloway said. “He wants to be in the pressure.”
And he was good in several roles, ranging from closer to long reliever when needed.
Yet there was always a sense that he might be miscast; that the spotlight of Friday night Big 12 starter could be his thing.
So Golloway abruptly shifted John to the No. 1 rotation spot. He's gone just 4-2 since, but beyond the numbers is a string of quality starts and no-decisions that don't fully tell the story.
John gave the Sooners 8 2/3 shutout innings in an eventual extra-inning win over Baylor — the Bears' first league loss of the season. He battled Heaney in the Bedlam opener, taking a hard-luck loss while allowing three runs over eight innings. There was a 7 1/3-inning no-decision at Texas A&M, when he allowed two earned runs.
So consider John a fit for the front of the rotation, headlining an underrated staff capable helping OU make some noise both in next week's Big 12 Tournament and in the postseason, if the Sooners are included.
“Well, I don't want to give it up,” the junior from Corpus Christi, Texas, said about his starting role. “I'm going to continue what I do, stay motivated, stay hungry and hopefully good things will continue happening.”
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