Clemson (7-4) @ #9 NC State (11-2)
Not likely to be a good series for us, as NC State is once again an offensive power club despite the BBCOR bats. Generally Elliott Avent's club is a good hitting team with pitiful pitching, but with LHP Carlos Rodon they found an ace to almost guarantee a win on Fridays.
On the bright side, NC State has played only crap teams so far aside from Coastal Carolina, while we've faced one quality opponent already. We also generally play NCSU very well despite the predictions going in.
After last week’s series loss to SoCar, you know the Tigers want to grab some headlines with a series win here in Raleigh and kick off their Shock-The-World ACC tour. And don’t count them out either. Sure, if Carlos Rodon is throwing to his potential, the Tigers are as good as sunk. But CU beat South Carolina in game two last weekend and the offense has the potential to give the Pack fits. Yes, I did say "the potential" ‘coz their .254 average ain’t showing it yet. I’m still looking for Trea Turner to give us a head-slapping performance, since he’s hitting a torrid .490 and he and Brett Williams are both 8-for-8 in thefts. The Pack offense is clipping at a .300 pace so I like the batting depth of N.C. State to take two of three here. But again, don’t count out the youthful Tigers.
All 3 games are covered on ESPN3
Clemson and N.C. State have met 184 times on the diamond, with the Tigers holding a 110-73-1 lead in the series dating to the 1921 season. The two teams have faced each other at least one time every season since 1953. NC State took 2 of 3 at Clemson last year, and we kinda pissed away the game against Rodon at the end. The Tigers hold a 40-37 lead in games played at N.C. State and an 87-58 advantage in ACC regular-season games. Jack Leggett has a 44-23 record against the Wolfpack as Clemson's head coach, including a 13-14 mark at N.C. State.
NC State had some patsies lined up on the schedule at the CCU Invitational, facing UMBC and winning 5-3, FAU 2-1 in 10inn., and beating Coastal Carolina 5-4 in 10.
They lost to Elon by a football score of 24-12 and beat Campbell the next night 5-2 midweek.
Clemson defeated Wofford 9-2 Wednesday after losing 2 of 3 to #7 SC.
If you want to see two future MLB pitchers, watch this game. Rodon was the best in the ACC last year and averages almost 2 Ks per inning as you can see. Rodon is back-to-back ACC pitcher of the week, and has allowed 2 hits in the last 57 batters faced.
Don't be surprised if Clemson gets shut out.
The stats they put up should be factored in with the schedule they've played, but its an imposing lineup. Its led by Trae Turner, one of the top players in the nation and former freshman AA. He is a former 20th rd pick by the Pirates in the 2011 draft and hit .336 last season, with an OBP of .432 and scored 72 runs. He is beating the ball around at a .490 clip so far and has already stolen 8 bases. Keeping him in the dugout will be a key for Clemson this weekend.
Clemson's lineup gave me concern going into SC, and it didn't get any better with them being shut out twice over the weekend. We simply cannot hit the baseball, and have no power anywhere. Jack wants an MLB baseball brought to college, but if he doesn't put some power somewhere in the lineup, it won't really matter what kind of ball they throw. NC State obviously isn't having a power shortage as you can see above.
Brittle has at least improved his ability to take some pitches and work a walk, but he does not get on base enough for a lead off hitter. If this doesn't improve we may have to move Steve back up. Gibson took the starting spot in LF from Slaton as I had hoped, but he's really not any better at the plate yet. His time will come.
Jon McGibbon is a big concern at 1B, a traditional power spot in the lineup. He cannot afford to hit below the Mendoza line any more and needs to wake up, or get benched. Theres talent on this team that should be on the field if he's not going to hit the baseball.
I'd like to see guys like Jackson Campana, Dunster, Triller, or Costigan get some ABs if we're going to suck this bad at the plate with regulars. I wouldnt sacrifice the glove of Baum or Krieger but something has to be done.
Of the team's 13 HRs, 11 have come from the 5th inning onwards = they've eaten bullpens up. Thats to be expected against patsies. 3 of the HRs have been Grand Slams.
Lineups are taken from the previous weekend's games. "x's" denote common subs.
NC State carries a LOT of pitchers. The go-to guys are Ryan Wilkins (2-0, 0.00 ERA in 10.1IP) and Andrew Woeck (1-0, 2.16 in 8.1), with a group of long relievers/midweek starters. Logan Jernigan has a 0.96 ERA in 9, along with Josh Easley's 1.00 ERA in 9 IP. From the stats it appears that only a handful have been beaten up, or the team ERA would be a good bit lower. 8 wins on the staff are in the bullpen, again because they're lighting up opposing pens.
Clemson's pen did OK against SC, it was the errors and gaffes on defense that beat us more than the pen or starting staff. Kyle Schnell looked pretty good against the cluckers, and closer Matt Campbell was OK. Zach Erwin also looked pretty good in limited work. We're still waiting on Pohle's return and for Patrick Andrews to show up. Meyer and Kent still stink.
Clemson has played good defense for the most part, particularly on the left side of the infield. The outfield has been shaky, and Boulware was eaten up by Gossett's curve or other nastier breaking balls, but otherwise is fine. I'm just worried that we'll again come in as tight as our HC and one screwup will let NCSU blow these games open - their lineup is more potent than SC's and it can get ugly.
Ultimately, on the road, I don't see Clemson winning more than 1 game in this series.