...talks about how UConn hasn't been in contact and how they're out. (HT: UMHoops)
Baseball: Notre Dame Preview
|Tuesday 6:35pm ET, Ray Fisher Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI|
|Eric Katzman (2-1, 6.00 ERA)||vs||TBA|
|Stats||Audio (MGo)||BTN.com ($)|
|Notes: Michigan is 78-44 all time, Last year: 1-1 in DH @ND (my |
recap from last season).
|Wednesday 6:05pm ET, Frank Eck Stadium, South Bend, IN|
|Matt Miller (0-2, 7.01 ERA)||vs||TBA|
Michigan will host Notre Dame Tuesday to open a home and home series with the Irish, with the road game for Michigan coming Wednesday. The Irish aren't that good of a team this year, and that might be a bit of an understatement. At just 15-19, they are currently sitting around #201 out of 301 in pseudo-RPI. That said, they, and any college team for that matter, can still be a dangerous team during the mid-week.
Preview and thoughts after a jump:
Weather looks perfect both days if not a little cool. Winds look to be minor.
The Irish have been a huge let down in the Big East after being picked to finish in the top 4-5 of the conference. As it turns out, the rest of the Big East has exploded onto the scene this season, including Louisville in the top 10, and UCONN, Pittsburgh, and Rutgers(!) all competing for tournament slots. The Irish have just one quality win on the season, taking one of three in a series against Rutgers. Meanwhile, they have been swept by South Florida and Michigan State, plus have bad losses to teams like Georgetown (#151in RPI, ND lost the series 1-2), Texas-Pan Am (#268 RPI, swept in a 2 game series), and Illinois-Chicago (#209 in RPI).
Notre Dame does have a group of hitters worth mentioning. David Mills leads the team with a .364 batting average, but he's not much of a slugger, with only a .492 slugging percentage. He does have some speed though, as he's leading the Irish in steals (8/10). He's spent the season splitting time between the outfield and designated hitter role, and he's made starts in the lead off, 2-, and 3-holes of the lineup. As of last weekend, he's been consistently hitting in the 3.
Behind Mills in the clean up spot will be Casey Martin, the Irish first baseman. Martin is another high average guy at .357, but he too isn't the strongest slugger, with a slugging percentage at .492. That said, he is second in slugging on the team. His on base percentage isn't great at just .392, and he doesn't really seem to have much speed either.
The leading slugger on the team is left fielder Ryan Connolly, who bats lead off. I know what you're thinking. Lead off batter is your top slugger? He's only slugging .615, which isn't that great. His 6 home runs and 3 triples are good numbers, but his .462 on base and .350 batting average are more like lead off batter numbers.
After that, the hitters drop off pretty quick. As a team, their batting average is only .286, which is pretty horrible.
No official word yet on who the Irish will be starting, but if patterns hold, we should see Adam Norton (1-0, 5.56 ERA) for one of the two games, presumably Tuesday. Norton has started the last two mid-week games for the Irish. He earned his first win of the season against Oakland two weeks ago, pitching just 4 innings while giving up 5 hits and 2 runs, striking out 6 on 70 pitches, 44 of which were strikes. Last week, he took a no decision in a ND victory, throwing 4.1 innings, giving up 3 runs on 6 hits, 2 walks, and a strikeout. He threw 79 pitches that game, 50 for strikes. That's quite a few pitches for just 4 innings.
No idea who starts the other game. The Irish have had their second mid-week game canceled a few times over the last few weeks. They do have quite a few decent looking ERAs in the bullpen. Steven Mazur appears to be the closer with 4 saves in 12 appearances with a 2.50 ERA in 18 innings and 21 strikeouts.
Update: The Observer is reporting the other starter is likely a lefty:
[Irish coach Dave] Schrage said that the starting pitcher will be a game-time decision between sophomore LHP Ryan Richter and freshman RHP Adam Norton.
Richter is 1-0 in 7 relief appearances, tossing 19.2 innings, giving up 21 runs (19 earned) on 28 hits, 5 walks, and 16 strikeouts. His extra base hit totals are pretty high for the innings he's thrown, having given up 8 doubles, 3 triples, and 4 home runs.
The Irish get up for this series. Their fans will probably come out in good numbers, even to the Ann Arbor game. However, Michigan shouldn't have any problems dealing with their fans, even at Eck.
It will be interesting to see how Matt Miller's start goes on Wednesday. He's still trying to find his groove. That could be said about Katzman (pictured right from MGoBlue) as well. His career numbers against the Irish could also use some padding. Hopefully the start goes better than last year's. He led off the game with a walk and hit Golden Tate. He was done after just one inning as it was a staff day in that game. On that note, I'd like to see Travis Smith get some work in this week. He couldn't even record an out against ND last year. It's time for some redemption.
I think we see a lot of guys like Smith - backups, that is - over the next two days. I wouldn't be surprised to see Stephens get a couple innings at first and Kittle get a start somewhere. Crank is probably also due a start to give Berset an easy DH day.
This series means nothing in the long run, but I think we see both teams compete as this series tends to be big for bragging rights. I predict a Michigan sweep. If we don't I'd be pretty surprised, and probably shocked at what it does to our nice #57 RPI ranking. We're pretty much guaranteed to drop for playing such a low rated opponent, so we can't let it fall drastically like it would with a loss.