Central Michigan (15-10)
|Wednesday 2:30pm ET, Ray Fisher Stadium |
|TBA ||vs ||Bryce Morrow (1-0, 7.71 ERA) |
|Stats ||Audio (WBCN) || ||Video ($2.99) || |
|Notes: 32-27-2 All-Time vs CMU, Last meeting a 2-10 L in 2009. |
Game time has been updated to avoid rain.
Michigan and Central Michigan have quite the heated rivalry over their all time series, as adequately reflected in the all time series being so close. This isn't even due to decades old scores either, Michigan hasn't beaten CMU since 2007 (13-3), being beat pretty bad 10-2 in 2009 and 3-7 in 2008. Go a couple years back and you'll find the barn burner of 2004 played in Mt. Pleasant. Michigan escaped with a 14-13 win in the most back and forth games in recent memory. The series has been a great one, and all indications are that this year's installment will be just as awesome.
Central Michigan comes in with an RPI just under 200, and a strength of schedule rated 192 in the country. The Chippewas have a solid series win over Miami in MAC play, but not a lot else to write home about in terms of quality wins. They've played two other Big Ten teams this season, Indiana who shut them out 9-0, and Michigan State, who won by a score of 13-10.
The offense is lead by Nate Theunissen, who, as of Tuesday pre-UIC* is batting .409 with 13 doubles, 3 homers, and 24 RBI. He's by far their leading slugger with a .659 slugging percentage, and leads the team in on base percentage with a .459. Also worth noting is Dale Cornstubble. He's batting .357 with 20 RBI and .488 slugging percentage, 2nd only to Theunissen. Billy Anderson is their next top hitter with a .354 batting average and a .485 slugging percentage, but he's also their stolen base threat with 11 on the year. His 15 attempts are about 40% of the teams attempts, so don't expect too much from anyone else. All three of those hitters have about the same on base percentage, mostly in the .450-.460 range. That's quality, especially for the MAC.
*All these stats were before the UIC game on Tuesday.
Pitching profile, weather, and thoughts after a jump.
The projected starter is Bryce Morrow. He's made 7 appearances on the year including one start. He's only thrown 11.2 innings while giving up 18 hits, 12 runs (10 earned), 5 walks, and striking out 10. He has hit 5 batters and thrown 2 wild pitches to boot. So it sounds like he specializes in the strikeout-or-ripped pitching philosophy. Dangerous for Michigan who has seen their K numbers rise a bit of late.
Morrow's one start came against Valparasio in a midweek game last week. He lasted 5 innings, giving up 7 hits, 4 runs (3 earned), on two walks, a hit batsman, and three strikeouts. Seven of his 15 outs were groundouts (not including 2 sacrifice bunts), and he only allowed 2 fly outs and one line out.
Not good. That's a 80% chance of thunderstorms throughout the day. I'm not so confident the game gets played.
It'll be interesting to see who the true home team is with the way the Chippewas travel. Their last few trips to Ann Arbor, you probably couldn't have figured out who the home team was based on the crowd. The CMU faithful are loud and a bit rowdy, and they heckle very well. Playing this game earlier in the afternoon may help cut down on some of the attendance for the first few innings.
It's hard to know what to expect from Michigan's pitching staff going into this game. Travis Smith and Ben Ballantine were the only two not to throw this weekend, and I think we see one of them get the start. In the long run, it probably doesn't really matter. Michigan's chance of getting an at large bid is so insignificant at the moment, midweek games don't have a whole lot of meaning to the season. It's just a good place to build up some depth on the pitching staff and get some players some work.
That said, I don't think we'll see too many back ups get too much time this week as I expect this to be a close game, however high or low the score may be. If anything, we may see Ryan LaMarre take his first couple live game swings since the thumb injury. He made a pinch hitting appearance last weekend, but he was pulled before coming to bat. The thumb may still be causing some problems, so it's wait and see until he's healed.
Last note, the game is on BTN.com's streaming video player. I've heard mixed reviews about it, mainly negative stuff from basketball season. I'm hoping that the new set up on the baseball field will be a bit better. Should be fun if they have to stay on through a rain delay. Interesting to see how they run their first game with a possible interruption like that.