#8 Florida State (39-13, 18-9 ACC) vs. Clemson Tigers (34-19, 15-12 ACC)
They save the big ones for the end it seems. FSU is a very strong hitting club but statistically not terribly better than Clemson. They get the clutch hits that we haven't been getting though, thus the record. They have a strong bullpen at the end that we havent showcased lately, but a weak rotation. If Clemson gets good starting pitching this series will be really good.
The Seminoles enter the series atop the Atlantic Division with a three-game lead over the Tigers. With one win, FSU will secure its fourth consecutive division title and no lower than the #2 seed in the ACC Tournament. Clemson would need to sweep to win the Atlantic, and I dont see any way that happens. Current regional projections have FSU hosting as a #12 seed with Clemson going to Coastal Carolina in the 1st round.
Florida State's trip to Clemson is getting overshadowed but that is a big series itself. The Seminoles can clinch a host spot and get some momentum for the postseason. Winning at Clemson can be tough and the Seminoles have slipped under the radar a bit the last few weeks. As for Clemson, they really need a series win after dropping two games at Wake Forest last weekend. A season that started with so much promise has deteriorated quickly. Two wins would provide an adrenaline boost entering the conference tournament.
FSU leads the all-time series at 63-50-1, while the Tigers hold the advantage on their home turf at 25-18. FSU has won five of the last six games in the series. FSU has also won the last two series against Clemson including a sweep of the Tigers in Clemson in 2008. It marked just the second road sweep of Clemson by the Noles and fourth all-time since FSU joined the ACC. The Seminoles hold a 28-26 advantage in ACC regular-season games.
Jack has a 26-36 record against Florida State as Clemson's head coach, including a 14-10 mark at Tiger Field. All 62 of Leggett's games coached against Florida State have been against a top-25 ranked Seminole team.
The Seminoles, who have lost back-to-back games just twice all year and have not lost three games in a row, are 11-5 on opponents' home fields and 8-3 in one-run games.
FSU did not play any midweek games this week. They defeated Stetson last week 6-2, and then took 2 of 3 from NC State in Tallahassee. They lost game 1 5-2, but won game 2 and 3 by scores of 7-5 and 12-9. Their pitching was suspect and they had to come from behind to win the two games. In game 1 they were dominated by Jake Buchanan, NC State's #1 starter.
Clemson faced Presbyterian this week and won 8-2, after dropping 2 of 3 to Wake Forest and basically killing themselves for any shot at the Atlantic. Clemson also lost to Coastal cellar-dwellar Duke 2 of 3 times. When you dont make hay against the shitty teams, you dont deserve the division title. Of note is that Jason Stolz started at SS against PC.
Thursday, 7pm on CSS:
Busch has a 4.78 ERA in 10 ACC-only appearances, ranking 17th in the league. Weismann has basically tanked since ACC play started.
Saturday, 1pm on a Regional Fox Network:
FSU has not lost on Sundays, so maybe its good that this series has been shifted up a day. I still expect Frederick to start here, not Leone after his last few outings. Neither team has announced the starters, it could be John Gast or Scott Sitz for FSU.
FSU's Tyler Holt hits .360 in ACC-only play and McGee hits .356, 10th and 12th in the league respectively. Holt is tied for 2nd in ACC-only Homers, is 3rd in doubles and 1st in runs scored and stolen bases. As you can see below, its a very top-heavy lineup, so its crucial to keep leadoff hitters off base. Florida State is averaging 8.4 runs per game and hitting a .485 slugging percentage and .418 on-base percentage thanks to 327 walks. Florida State is second in the nation in walks, one spot ahead of Clemson.
The Tigers are averaging 8.8 runs per game and hitting a .491 slugging percentage and .409 on-base percentage thanks to the walks and 52 hit-by-pitches.
Otherwise I'd say Clemson has a slight edge here based on overall statistics. We just cant get the hits at the right times.
Prospective lineup based on last weekend.
Brad Miller ranks 3rd in ACC-only hitting at .382(-4-16) with Parker at 6th with .364(-8-23). Miller also has a .525 OBP in ACC games. Parker is putting up a .517 OBP and a .739 slugging percentage overall. Mike Freeman's 18-game hit streak came to an end last weekend. Parker and Schaus are 3rd and 7th in runs scored in ACC play. Schaus leads the ACC with 70 RBI, and Parker is tied with Tony Plagman for the ACC lead in homers.
FSU's biggest problem has been the rotation, their pen is fair. Some guys do well enough out there to be moved into the rotation, and then fall to pieces after a few starts. Its the same problem we have had with Lamb and Leone, for example. 9 different guys have made starts, and only Gilmartin has been starter-only this year. The rest have been moved in and out of the rotation. Brian Busch and Scott Sitz (5-0, 4.41) are more recent additions to the starting rotation, with Geoff Parker (3-0, 4.40) and Hunter Scantling (3-2, 4.24) also getting some duty. Lately based on what I've read in doing the weekend roundups, their pen has been quite good at the end of games with Parker and Everett racking up the lion's share of the innings. They have enabled FSU to come from behind in MANY games this year.
Their closer is Mike McGee, who has a miniscule 0.43 ERA and 9 saves in 21 IP, and has allowed only 7 hits. He's walked a few too many but has struck out 25 in those 21 innings too. Daniel Bennett has been another servicable guy with a 3-1 record and 3.42 ERA in 26.1 IP.
In ACC-only games, FSU ranks 5th in ERA at 5.38. Clemson ranks 7th at 5.60.
I've covered Clemson's pen here ad nauseam. Cruz has been steadily improving and now with Leone sputtering I think he'll have to go back to the Pen (2-1, 4.22). Haselden has held steady at around 4+ and Frederick has become dependable with Firth (2-1, 3.08) as an extra starter. Perhaps Lamb will find his stuff again this weekend to help us out.
I think Clemson can win 2 of these games, but a sweep will surprise me.