[Ed: Also on the site: Barry Larkin's press conference.]
For Ohio State week, We get to have a bit more "vicious" in the vicious electronic questioning. Not only is Chris Webb, of Buckeye State Baseball and the BuckeyeNine, one of the bloggers who has been around for a while, but he's also one who I keep up with on a near daily basis during the season. So the familiarity breeds comfort with making fun of him and the Buckeyes in such a public space.
So without further adieu, let's get to the Q&A:
Describe your season in 3 sentences.
Rocky but expected. It's better to be 3 words than 3 sentences. Was told if you don't have anything nice to say then don't say anything. Whoops that is 3 sentences after all.
Speaking of rocky, how did OSU manage to lose to a D2 and an NAIA team?
Plead the fifth.
Yeah, I'm sure losing to a pair of teams with a total of ZERO scholarship athletes has to be rough. So glad Ohio State could show us that.
What's the chances of Alex Wimmers making me post pictures of otters on Friday? We're not going to be no-hit again are we? [Ed: con't after the jump.]
Slim. Obviously as you know no-nos are rare. But expect another complete game with 13 K's while allowing 6 hits and a run, ok with your team it could be 19 strikeouts. While it is hard to root for the opposition here, baseball fans should sit back and enjoy the talent that is Wimmers. He'll go in the first 25 picks in June and truly is one of the top 5 draft-eligible pitchers in college baseball. Pomeranz, Sale, Ranando, and McGuire incase you were wondering. Honorable mention to Hahn, Hutlzen, and Grimm.
Okay, so looking past Wimmers, is Rucinski falling apart? Does Michigan have anything to fear in Wolosiansky?
No and no. Rucinski is fighting a nasty series of blisters which the Columbus Dispatch ran on Friday, before the 10-run two-inning outing, so it's a legit issue. I'm not sure how if/how he will be used this weekend but he's a bulldog and will want to take the rubber.
Wolosiansky is the latest in a long line of Buckeye pitchers to regress as their time increases in Columbus. He has always pitched with an uneasy BAA/WHIP but somehow was able to pile up 18 wins, 11 with a 6+ ERA in 2009. I think the baseball Gods have a way of evening things out.
Eric Best has come back from off season shoulder surgery. Is he back to his A-game? How is he being used this season?
No and who knows. While his velocity is almost back, he's sitting upper 80s (87-88, he was 91-92 prior) his stuff isn't there, and it might be more mentally than physically.
Best is a guy with a HUGE ceiling entering his freshman year, he had a very solid rookie campaign and things went south. He was juggled from closer to rotation, overused, a labrum surgery later he's probably had enough of the on-goings in Columbus. Not to say he isn't giving 100%, I'm sure he is, but it would be had for me at least to take instruction from coaches who seemingly have set your career in reverse. Who knows what his role is. I wouldn't be shocked at all if he pitches once out of the pen, twice, three times, starts,closes, is long relief. He has done all of the above this season. I personally would have him as the #3 starter.
Minium. Good closer? Bad closer? Are he and Best your only relievers? How can your bullpen survive with so few pitchers?
Minium is surprisingly one of the few pitchers to actually improve during his tenure. He isn't good, but he isn't bad (last year he was badddd posting a WHIP north of 2.50) best scenario is in a 2 inning outing he'll give up a run.
Freshman Brett McKinney also comes from the pen and usually is the second guy out after Best, and Jared Strayer who is coming back from a minor knee injury is also there. To be honest and fair, Ohio State has always used just 8 or 9 pitchers, even when they were good in '05 an '06 when they had team ERA's right at 3.50 eight pitchers each season threw 99% of all innings. Todd likes a lighter staff than normal. Which you can see here
Oh, dropping stats now are we? I thought I was the one you had to bring on board for statistical work at your site. Speaking of that stat post, I still don't understand why on Earth Hurley bats lead off?
Its a role he enjoys first, and secondly he does a pretty good job there. It does take away a power bat, but with Ohio State, he might actually be better hitting behind the lower half which has Cory Rupert, Brian DeLucia and Tyler Engle getting on base, than in a 3 or 4 hole. He's getting on base at a .453 clip, his 38 runs leads the team, so he's getting on and getting in as a leadoff hitter should. He's also led off 7 of the last 9 games with a base hit, a very impressive feat.
How is it that Ohio State always leads the Big Ten in fewest strikeouts? They're paying the umpires, aren't they?
Just the results of being a veteran team. The guys are patient and will wait for their pitch. They know they have talent and can put the ball in play, just a matter of getting their pitch and stroking it.
Who else do Michigan fans need to be leery of this weekend?
Michael Stephens and DeLucia in the outfield with Hurley. Ohio State hasn't had a three-headed monster in the outfield for the last 6 seasons going back to Drew Anderson, Christian Snavely, and Mike Rabin and such.
Have the Buckeyes solidified their defense yet? I notice Hallberg has basically been benched indefinitely.
Yeah Hallberg's bat has cooled off to the point where it can no longer overcome the fielding woes. Ryan Dew may appear at first in a game to spill Streng. Rupert seems to be recovered from a nagging hamstring injury that hindered his mobility and range earlier in the year.
Going to be in Ann Arbor this weekend?
Unsure. I'm fighting an urge to head to the derby.
If yes, what will you be wearing so I can point you out to all our readers so they can heckle you as much as they do your players.
Only if you're readers are 20-23 blonde hair, green eyed, tanned and 127 pounds. But no, I'll probably be in the press box if I go... but still ladies 614-70...
As if the women of Ann Arbor would be interested in a future journalist, much less a Buckeye. We don't take kindly to "hack journalist" in these parts.
But on the subject of women, are you enjoying Michigan's soon-to-be sweep of Ohio State in softball live on the BTN as much as I? WE'VE GOT THE MOMENTUM! Well, it's coming at least.
Who cares. Texas A&M has the finest softball team in the country. And I mean finest.
That's fighting words. Totally true, but still…
Bree's coming for you. Bat in hand.
Predictions for the weekend?
Buckeyes take 2-1. I can't go against Wimmers on a Friday, and our guys owe Michigan, not that a no-hitter doesn't do the job, a lighting of the scoreboard after the previous four seasons prior to 2009. I wouldn't be shocked if Sunday was an 14-11 game. I do seem to remember a 26-run game somebody put on somebody earlier this year. (And no not Michigan State-Iowa)
Special thanks to Chris Webb of Buckeye State Baseball and the BuckeyeNine. I'll have my series notes and predictions out Thursday night or Friday morning.
Beat the Buckeyes.