Baseball: Michigan State Preview

Submitted by formerlyanonymous on May 10th, 2010 at 9:56 PM

Michigan (29-17)

@

Michigan State(29-16)


Tuesday 3:05pm ET, McLane Stadium, East Lansing, MI
TBA vs TBA
Stats        
Notes: 191-96-2 All Time, Last year was a 1-2 series loss, Michigan
taking the last game. Game has been rained out and will not be made up.

Michigan

vs

Michigan State


Wednesday 6:35pm ET, Ray Fisher Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI
TBA vs TBA
Stats Audio (MGo)   BTN.com ($)  
Notes: The first of 4 games streamed this week, and a 5th to start next week .
My guess is Miller with the start.

Due to the limited 8 week conference schedule in the Big Ten, every year, one team is dropped off the conference schedule. There they stay for a two year conference hiatus, before returning for the next 18 years or otherwise depending on things working out in your hypothetical expansion rumor of the week.

This year, it's Michigan State's turn to rotate off the conference regular season slate. To keep the rivalry fresh, the two teams will tango in a mid-week home-and-home series opening Tuesday in East Lansing.

The Spartans had quite high hopes coming out of the first two seasons, even being a fringe ranked team, but they have suffered a near humiliating collapse over the last two weeks, falling from first place in conference to last. They're still a dangerous team, especially if Michigan were to face them on the weekend, but like any other team in the mid-week, nothing is a sure bet.

This series is absolutely meaningless from a conference tournament point of view, but no game against the Spartans will ever be taken lightly in these parts. So with that, we'll move to the slightly abbreviated team preview after the jump.

The Spartan Season

Michigan State enters the series with a 29-16 record on the year and a pseudo-RPI of 98 (as of Monday morning). The Spartans rank in the national top ten in fielding percentage and top 50 in batting average (#33 .331), triples per game(#12, 1.48), steals per game (#30 @1.28), walks allowed per 9-innings (#36, 3.09), and double plays per game (#31, 1.07) – all impressive.

Despite all that good, lately, the Spartans have been quite the opposite. The Spartans were swept two weeks ago by conference bottom dweller Penn State by a combined score of 49-13. This past weekend, they lost a series to conference leader Purdue 2 games to 1.

Also important to look at is their performance in the mid-week. Michigan State has gone 5-2 in mid-week games since returning to East Lansing this season. They split series with a decent Central Michigan and a bad Western Michigan team, swept two from Eastern Michigan and beat Bowling Green State. Much of that is pretty unimpressive, but the loss to the Broncos is pretty horrible. And yes, the Wolverines almost pulled the same feat, but they managed to escape with the win.

Spartan Pitching

The two mid-week starters for the Spartans have been Tony Weiber and Andrew Waszak . Weiber, a true freshman righty, has gotten the Tuesday start the last two times out, recording the win in both. On the season, he's 3-0 with a 5.02 ERA and a .296 opponent batting average. Weiber has thrown 28.2 innings (including 3 starts), giving up 9 doubles and 5 homers while striking out 18 and walking 10. His last time out was a 6.1 inning start, allowing one unearned run on 3 hits, 2 walks, and 6 strikeouts. His groundball to fly out ratio was 2:1.

Andrew Waszak has had a few more starts for the Spartans, but he seems to have fallen behind Weiber as the primary mid-week guy. He sports a 4-1 record overall, spanning 39 innings over ten appearances, including 7 starts. He's struck out just 19 and walked 10. Over the last two weeks, Waszak is 1-1, including the loss at a neutral site against Central Michigan. In his last start, the freshman righty went 7.2 innings, giving up no runs and 2 hits while striking out 7 and walking two. His ground ball to fly ball ration was 8:7.

The MSU bullpen is probably tops in the league. They are anchored by Kurtis Frymier, the closer, who in 19 appearances, has a 2-0 record and a 3.86 ERA. His 5 saves leads the team. He's thrown 23.1 innings to lead the bullpen, and has 18 strikeouts on the year. Their other primary reliever is Tim Simpson. Simpson is 0-1 with a 2.49 ERA over 21.2 innings. Simpson also likes the strikeout, recording 20 so far.

(all stats previous to the series ending game against Purdue)

Spartan Offense

Michigan State has lead the Big Ten in hitting just about all season. As of Monday morning, the team was hitting .327 combined. They have 5 regulars hitting over .350, and two others, including a role player, hitting around .330.

The hottest hitter lately has been Torsten Boss, son of no relation to head coach Jake Boss (update HT: mikejc1997). In Big Ten play, Boss is hitting .433 with a .683 slugging percentage. The guy has just been clobbering the ball. Other dangerous hitters include Andy Johnson, Jeff Holm, and Eli Boike. Boike is the overall batting average leader at .376 and a .594 slugging percentage, both lead the team. He's also leading the team with 6 homers. He and Holm are the two major on base threats (both at .442 on base percentages), and Holm is the big stolen base threat. He's 22/24 on the season. Other base stealing threats include Brandon Eckerle (19/22) and Jonathon Roof (13/18).

McLane Stadium

The Spartans play their home games at McLane Stadium. The capacity has been expanded to 2,500 but the Spartans don't often fill it. This week will probably be the exception. The seating areas are much improved after Drayton McLane sponsored a $4 million dollar revamp. I've heard the stadium isn't the most fan friendly, lacking a built in concession stand, and having small restrooms, but I'm not 100% on that. They don't have lights, so if a 3pm game goes too late in the day, the game could be called for darkness.

For those that may go to East Lansing, parking isn't near the field. You'll have to park at Breslin and take a short walk to the field. That's probably not a bad thing. Michigan may have parking right next to the stadium, but they've also broken 5-6 windshields this season.

I'd be interested in anyone's take on the stadium from a first hand point of view. I've heard it's much improved, so if you make it out, drop a comment.

Weather

It's looking bad on Tuesday in East Lansing. Both The Weather Channel and Weather Underground are both predicting 70-100% chance of rain throughout the day, peaking at the 3pm start time.

Wednesday in Ann Arbor should be a bit better. It should still be cloudy and overcast, but rain chance drops down to the 20% range. I wouldn't be surprised to see a double header in Ann Arbor, starting at maybe 3pm.

Series Thoughts

I'm not sure who Michigan throws in game 2 of this series, but my guess is Gerbe. He threw one inning on Saturday, and I would expect him ready by Wednesday. I also wouldn't be surprised if it was a staff day to get in work for a lot of guys. Several could use work outside of the weekend mop up duty. Travis Smith, Kyle Clark, and Ben Ballantine all come to mind.

Michigan set a home attendance high last season against the Spartans with 3,400+ fans for the Saturday game. It'd be awesome to see something like that in the mid-week, but the overcast weather and people's work week schedule probably won't allow for it. And, I mean, it's not like we're retiring Jim Abbott's number like we did in that Saturday game. Still, I wouldn't be surprised to see close to 2,000 in attendance for Wednesday night game.

My gut tells me we split with the Spartans as a worst case scenario. Their weekend against the Boilermakers was pretty close. They're still a good team that can hit, and their mid-week starters aren't half bad either. My head tells me we sweep, though, and I think I'm going to go with the head this time around. Michigan's offense shouldn't be stymied by those pitchers, Patrick Biondi is coming around. Chris Berset are making their last round against the Spartans. I have to expect a big series from them. It's all just a measure of how well our pitching staff goes.

Michigan sweeps 2-0.

Comments

formerlyanonymous

May 12th, 2010 at 5:34 PM ^

Michigan-Michigan State play in key Big Ten baseball game

Dave Goricki, you have no idea what's going on. This is not a Big Ten baseball game. Nor is it key. Nor does State's record, one half game better than Michigan, mean anything, especially since their schedule strength is approximately 36 spots behind Michigan.

Please leave college baseball coverage to those who care.

Sincerely,
formerlyanonymous

formerlyanonymous

May 12th, 2010 at 10:46 PM ^

13-10 was the final. I'll have an extremely brief recap attached to the Northwestern preview. Just know that this was one of the ugliest games that college baseball has to offer. We're talking close to 4 hours to play. The first 6 innings took 3 hours alone. I'm still regaining my sight from the eye gouging it caused.

Mr. Robot

May 12th, 2010 at 11:05 PM ^

Hopefully you see this to answer it, because I'd rather not start a thread about it.

This was the first Michigan baseball game I've ever attended, and I would like to know if my angle was just bad, or if that really was some of the worst officiating known to man.

By my count, we got shafted HARD 3 times, which combined would have made the difference in this game. Twice the moron at second called a Sparty safe that was way, WAY out with 2 outs that led to IIRC 2 and 1 runs respectively. The other involved the catcher SITTING on home with the ball and yet somehow the runner was called safe. That is at least 4 runs, although in the first incident at second I honestly don't recall how many runs they ended up with after that, I just know it was at least 2.

Thanks.

formerlyanonymous

May 12th, 2010 at 11:26 PM ^

I was watching the game online and the strike zone was pretty bad. There were two plays at second that were close, and the one I assume your talking about was tough. The umpire was in the best position previous to the throw to make a call, but Toth blocked the third base side of the bag, not allowing the umpire to see the touch of the bag versuses the tag. Because it was bang bang, I could see that alone being enough for the umpire to call him safe. You can't call it if you can't see it. That said, replay looked like he was safe with the hand reaching the bag first by such a small fraction of a second that I felt better after the replay. The second was the strike'em out-throw'em out. He was definitely safe in the replay. At first glance, I thought he was out, too. I was wrong. Very wrong. The guy was way safe.

Every play at the plate saw the ball fall out of the catcher's glove. There was one in favor and one against Michigan. Both times the ball was on the ground at the time of the play. I might have missed one as with baseball that ugly, it was hard to focus.

There were plenty of questionable calls, but as an umpire, their positioning and mannerisms are the first things I watch for on close plays. Most of them I somewhat understood, at least on the field or on plays at the plate.

The strikezone, however, has been HORRIBLE in almost every game I've watch in ANY college game this season. I was pleasantly surprised in watching the Louisville at Vandy game the night before. The 17 inning game was the best strike zone I've seen in maybe 100-130-ish college games I've seen this year. This has been a horrible game for officiating. I'm not sure if this is just an isolated thing or if I'm just seeing more of it due to having a ton of games streamed every weekend. Either way, it's like a mix of Shegos (hockey) and Hightower (basketball), but an entire officials association full of them. It's really weird and truly unfortunate.

That said, officials are just normal people with real day jobs. College pitchers don't normally make it easy on an umpire with bad command (see: Katzman). I hope to umpire college one day, and I'm sure people will eat me up and spit me out just as bad.

formerlyanonymous

May 12th, 2010 at 11:28 PM ^

Oh, and umpiring didn't lose us this game. Lorenz airmailing one into right field, 4 feet over Toth's head, costing 2 runs and earning Miller an early exit didn't help. Nor did Evil Katzman's notoriously horrid control. Nor did Kolby Wood being unable to get out of a full inning again. Michigan hurt itself more than any umpire, even the home plate umpire, possibly could have.

Mr. Robot

May 12th, 2010 at 11:35 PM ^

My initial reactgion post-game was raging fury, so its good to know at least some of it was the homer in me. Appreciate the response, and will definitely read your post-game later.

Also, funny you should mention Shegos. The alumni band members in attendance chanted "We want Shegos" at one point. I think it was after one of the second base calls, but I might be wrong.