Friday, April 19, 2013

series preview: Florida State

Date/Time: Fri.-Sun., April 19-21; 6:00, 4:00, 1:00

TV: Cavaliers Live

Record against the Seminoles: 20-48

Last meeting: UVA 7, FSU 0; 5/26/12, Greensboro, NC (ACC tournament)

Last game: UVA 10, ODU 9 (4/17); FSU 2, USA 0 (4/16)

Last weekend: GT 2-1 over UVA (1-2, 7-2, 2-3); FSU 3-0 over Duke (16-2, 8-5, 8-3)

National rankings:

Baseball America: UVA #7, FSU #6
Collegiate Baseball: UVA #9, FSU #6
Perfect Game: UVA #7, FSU #6
Coaches: UVA #8, FSU #6
Composite: UVA #7, FSU #6

Florida State lineup:

C: Stephen McGee (.277-5-31)
1B: John Nogowski (.284-0-23)
2B: John Sansone (.255-1-19)
SS: Giovanny Alfonzo (.243-0-16)
3B: Jose Brizuela (.359-3-31)
LF: D.J. Stewart (.317-4-33)
CF: Seth Miller (.284-0-13)
RF: Brett Knief (.340-0-8)
DH: Marcus Davis (.295-7-30)

Lineup notes: First base is generally a platoon between the right-handed Nogowski and left-handed Casey Smit (.341-0-3).  The Noles essentially have four starting outfielders: Stewart, Miller, Knief, and Davis.  Stewart and Davis play every day; the other two might come off the bench at times. Stewart might play any of the three OF positions, and Davis DHes when he's not in left field.  Miller and Knief are strictly RF and CF, respectively.  FSU will also use Jameis Winston (.282-0-2) as a DH.

Pitching probables:

Fri: LHP Brandon Waddell (2-1, 3.65, 55 K) vs. RHP Luke Weaver (4-0, 1.40, 51 K)
Sat: LHP Scott Silverstein (6-0, 3.42, 42 K) vs. LHP Brandon Leibrandt (5-3, 4.89, 39 K)
Sun: RHP Nick Howard (4-3, 2.27, 42 K) vs. RHP Scott Sitz (7-0, 1.04, 40 K)

Florida State doesn't have any shortage of motivation for the season.  Before the season began, one of their players - Steven Spradling - broke more bones than you can count on your fingers in a skydiving accident that could've killed him.  Last month, outfielder Josh Delph was diagnosed with meningoencephalitis, which is a serious brain thing that also could've killed him.  (He does appear to have a good outlook, however.)  Three other players have regular injuries that are forcing them to sit the season, including former starting shortshop Justin Gonzalez and 12-2 (in 2012) starter Mike Compton.

They're still pretty good, though.  One shudders to think how fearsome that rotation would be with Compton, and they roll pretty deep in the hitting department.  This is Perfect Game's national series of the week, and both teams carry identical 13-5 records in conference play - although only one of us, and it's not UVA, has had the benefit of playing the utterly putrid BC Eagles.

-- UVA at bat

FSU has a solid lineup, but it's their pitching that's taken them this far.  Friday starter Luke Weaver is a tall, lanky right-hander who didn't start the season as the Friday guy, but moved gradually upward in the pecking order.  Weaver really was Mike Compton's replacement in the starting rotation.  Brandon Leibrandt and Scott Sitz have been a great deal more hittable this year.  Leibrandt is a slow-throwing lefty who might have been caught up to a little bit by the league after a solid freshman season; Sitz is a righty with the weirdest stat line ever.  A 1.04 ERA, you'd consider that pretty good, but Sitz has allowed 23 runs, with only 6 of them earned.  Where Leibrandt has tended watch his opposing starter pitch shutouts (he started the Noles' 6-0 loss to Miami and their 10-0 loss to GT), apparently Sitz gets no help whatsoever from his fielders?  That plus a .270 opposing BA is probably a recipe for big spike in that ERA; this weekend would be a good time to start.

It's the bullpen, though, that's the real concern.  FSU has six relievers with double-digit innings pitched, all but one with an ERA below 3 and three of them with opposing BAs below the Mendoza line.  Closer Robby Coles has allowed 2 runs in 22 2/3 innings, for an 0.79 ERA, and only 11 hits in that time as well.  UVA's nonconference games of late have involved digging deep holes and then trying to smash our way out of them; that's not going to work here.  FSU has a bullpen that's basically inexhaustible for the weekend, as long as they can get 5-6 innings out of their starters, and a good mix of righties and lefties too.  It's as good a pen as there is in the ACC, including UNC's and our own.

On a fielding note, FSU ranges from good to excellent with the glove, with one exception: 3B Jose Brizuela's 13 errors in 104 chances give him a fielding percentage of only .875.  Seth Miller has a very good outfield arm, with 7 assists.

-- FSU at bat

One nice thing about FSU's lineup is that it's constructed so that they can't get all their best bats into it at once.  Marcus Davis and D.J. Stewart are everyday outfielders (or in Davis's case, sometimes DH) and with good reason.  Davis is an excellent power hitter, slugging .561 with 14 doubles and 7 homers among his 39 hits.  Stewart is a good line drive hitter with some speed as well, and he too can clear the fence at times.  Seth Miller, on the other hand, is steady but unspectacular.  Brett Knief has done a fine job filling in for Josh Delph, hitting for a good average, if in limited time so far.

With the exception of Jose Brizuela, the infield is much more light-hitting.  Brizuela happens to be outstanding; he's batting .359, and his 70 total bases are just a smidge below Davis's 74.  Brizuela usually hits in the five-hole behind catcher Stephen McGee, who's found some power this year after being a back-of-the-order guy in 2012.  Stewart is the #2 guy and Davis bats 3rd.

The rest of the infield is comparatively pedestrian, especially the light-hitting middle infielders Sansone and Alfonzo.  Top-to-bottom, the FSU lineup is not quite as scary as Georgia Tech's - and the UVA pitchers did an excellent job against the Jackets.  The 2-3-4-5 spots are a minefield, though.  And though FSU's not a small-ball team by any stretch, they'll send just about any of their runners if they decide they want a stolen base.  That's a pretty rare thing for the Noles, though, and with lefties going on Friday and Saturday, we probably don't have to worry about that quite as much.

-- Outlook

Short and sweet - this should be just the same as the GT series: no sweep for either team and close games all weekend.  Despite Scott Sitz's gaudy-ass stats, I think UVA has a slight edge in the starting rotation, FSU has a slight edge in the bullpen, and the lineups are about even.  I guess if you held a gun to my head and made me choose I'd say UVA has the slightly better lineup too since our 8 and 9 slots are better.  But it's a small edge.  These two teams are very, very close.


Anonymous said...

So far ... the bats have come to play. Interesting that Fisher is all the way down in the 6 spot.

Good start from Waddell so far, which is a nice sight, as the starting pitching is probably our biggest concern in regards to a postseason run.

pezhoo said...

How much would you give for a basketball or football season like this? What would the football equivalent be? 10-2?