Despite Nashville being dubbed Music City, USA, Texas A&M pitcher Jason Jester won’t be walking out to Bad Company’s “Here Comes the Jester,” when he takes the mound on Friday against Vanderbilt.
Jester’s walk-in song is a fan favorite at Blue Bell Park, but it is usually reserved for the ninth inning in a save situation.
On Thursday, A&M baseball coach Rob Childress dropped a bomb by announcing via the A&M-Vanderbilt baseball notes that Jester will open the series against the Commodores rather than close it.
With the unranked Aggies at 20-14 overall and 5-7 in the SEC is it a desperation move? Maybe, but it is calculated.
Jester throws four pitches very well, a nice repertoire to have as a starter, and could use a change of scenery, struggling with a 4.20 ERA and an opposing batting average of .344 after finishing 2013 with a 2.47 ERA and .200 B/Avg.
Those numbers led to an A&M season record 14 saves. He only has three saves this season and is 2-2, with one of the wins coming after blowing a save.
Jester is no stranger to starting. He had a 9-2 record, a 1.82 ERA and struck out 87 in 78 innings as a freshman at Tyler Junior College.
The move is also calculated in that with Jester starting on Friday moves Daniel Mengden back to Saturday and takes some of the pressure off him. He has had trouble in the opening inning and has a 3.32 ERA compared to 2.11 last season.
It also allows Childress the option of going with freshman Tyler Stubblefield on midweek games, which the Aggies have struggled to find a starter since Stubblefield moved to the weekend.
With Jester starting, the closer role could fall to any one of three pitchers — guessing here because I haven’t heard anything for sure — right-handers Andrew Vinson or Parker Ray, or lefty A.J. Minter, who was thought to be the guy that would finish when Jester wasn’t fresh.
Last season when the staff was struggling, it got a huge boost from Ray, who became the No. 2 starter.
No matter, it is worth taking a chance, and even if it is partially successful, a few extended outings on the mound could help Jester if he goes back to his old role.