Friday, April 9, 2010

Q&A with From The Rumble Seat

As is tradition around these parts, a matchup with Georgia Tech - especially a big one like this - means a Q&A exchange with GT blog From The Rumble Seat, at which you can find the counterpart interview. By now you should be familiar with the concept. This stands in for any kind of a series preview - it's easy when you let someone else write it. My questions, their answers:

1. Of the ACC contenders, and some of the noncontenders as well, GT's schedule to date has been the weakest. How much of the impressive batting statistics can be attributed to lousy pitching and how much is for real?

That's a valid question. Winfield himself was concerned about how our offense would look once the Jackets faced a formidable opponent like Carolina. We'd say the statistics speak for themselves: 26 runs, 4 HRs, 33 hits (12 of which for extra bases). Even though the opponents have been relatively weak, Georgia Tech has not let up on the gas pedal. The same cannot be said for UVA who let a sub-0.500 Wolfpack squad sneak by them. (Editor's note: Just for that, I'm gonna point out that even Carolina isn't necessarily the formidable opponent we thought they'd be earlier. As things are shaping up, UNC baseball is the UNC basketball of baseball season.)

2. The likely Friday matchup between Danny Hultzen and Deck McGuire looks like one of the best that college baseball fans will see all year, nationwide. But both teams also bat .344, tying them for the lead in the ACC. What do you expect out of this matchup?

Honestly, I think it will be a pitchers duel. I expect a game along the lines of 2-1 or 3-2. The opening game GT vs. UNC series went the same way, with 2 greate pitchers matching up against one another. Should be a heckuva a game... if you're a true baseball fan, this will be the one to watch.

3. Is this an Omaha-or-bust year for the Jackets? Both in terms of expectations, and the likely makeup of next year's team after this year's draft?

Yes, Tech's goal is definitely Omaha. We are tired of losing in super regional play especially when we host the super regional every other year. We have the sticks to score with any team in the country and finally have the depth at pitching required to win four or five games straight in the post season. Currently, Tech is on pace to best our last CWS team's season ERA and batting average. As long as the bats keep swinging against weekend ACC pitching rotations and the midweek pitchers continue to win, Tech fans are incredibly optimistic about our chances to make it into Rosenblatt's final season.

4. What's Hall's substitution philosophy? Will he ride the starters as long as he can? Platoon much? Big on lefty-righty matchups or just let your hitters hit and pitchers pitch and make the other team beat your best?

Offensively, we don't think he's real big on the right-lefty matchups, especially this year. He's said several times this season that he feels comfortable with any one of our hitters against a righty or lefty. As pitchers go, he's not going to keep anyone to a pitch count. He does tend to go for the favorable right-lefty matchup if he respects the other team's hitters. Concerning innings pitched, our starters usually go 5-6 innings and then middle relievers take over from there. Deck McGuire, however, has pitched about 2 more innings per game than typical Tech weekend starters just because he's performed so admirably. He's already thrown two complete games and is pitching about 7.6 innings/game.

5. I bet our fan favorite is tinier than your fan favorite. Who is the fan favorite? Not necessarily the baddest hitter or smoothest fielder - who on the Tech roster is the guy that you just call a ballplayer?

We don't want to denigrate any of our players or talk out of our asses on this question as Ted is currently in Kansas and has not made a game. Bird is in South Carolina and has not made a game yet either. Winfield has made it to several games but is completely out of touch with the Georgia Tech baseball fan base. So, if we were to pick a single player as a fan favorite, it would have to be Georgia Tech football's A-back, Roddy Jones. He was a highly heralded football and baseball recruit so the transition hasn't been too bad for him. He's still working on his batting technique but he's got the speed to steal bases and has been called upon to pinch run several times this season. Besides Deck McGuire, he's probably the most recognizable player on Tech's baseball squad despite the fact that he's struck out 6 times in 8 at bats. (Editor's note: I was thinking of Keith Werman here, and FTRS actually selected someone who Werman can almost see eye to eye with. Almost. But Jones has at least 40 pounds on the Werm.)

Don't forget to check out FTRS for my answers to their inquiries. And as always muchas mercis to the premier GT blog in the land.

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