North Carolina Tarheels (23-16, 6-12 ACC) vs. Clemson Tigers (24-14, 10-8 ACC)
UNC started out this season with quite a few cupcakes in my opinion, and rattled off a bunch of wins til they played Duke and lost 2 of 3 (as did Clemson). After that, they have really struggled to get some hits in timely positions, and their team ERA has tumbled. They walk WAY too many guys and haven't found a reliable 3rd starter. Of some of our other common opponents, they were swept by GT, took 2 of 3 from NC State, lost to Coastal Carolina and Elon.
Right now we're hardly playing better baseball than UNC is. The Tigers are 0-9 in their last nine games decided by two runs or less.
In the last four meetings between the two teams, each have been decided by three runs or less with two extra inning contests. Mike Fox is 16-17 career against Clemson, 7-8 on the road. UNC is 4-7 on the road this season.
Clemson owns a 96-76-1 advantage in the all-time series, which dates to 1901. The Tigers hold a 44-26-1 lead over the Tar Heels in games played at Clemson and a 36-12 lead at Tiger Field. The Tigers also hold a 75-57 advantage in ACC regular-season games. Jack has a 30-20 record against North Carolina as Clemson's head coach, including a 13-8 mark at Tiger Field.
All 3 games are on TigerCast.
Clemson was swept by Georgia Tech and crushed USC-Upstate 22-4.
Tar Heel ace Matt Harvey ranks fifth in the league in ERA with a 3.00 clip against ACC opponents. He ranks 3rd in the ACC overall in ERA. The junior’s 8.54 strikeouts per nine innings also rank fifth in the league.
Saturday, 11am: Moved up due to rain threat
Munnelly is a freshman and has made just two starts this season. I imagine he is in here because Colin Bates and Jimmy Messer have struggled of late.
Leone has made nine relief appearances and three starts for a total of 26.1 innings pitched. In his three starts (against Coastal Carolina, Georgia, and Western Carolina), he is 1-0 in 17.1 innings pitched. He has allowed just 14 hits (.212 opponents’ batting average), no home runs, four earned runs (2.02 ERA), and three walks with 14 strikeouts. Recall Will Lamb has been shaky in his last few starts (now over 5.+ ERA).
North Carolina is averaging 7.8 runs per game and hitting a .453 slugging percentage and .417 on-base percentage. As you can see from the lineup below, they have a few guys who have serious plate discipline and they get on base. Offensively junior Jesse Wierzbicki ranks in the top half of the league in batting, with .361 batting average in ACC play. Freshman Brian Goodwin posts 22 RBI in 18 league games, which is good for fourth in the ACC. UNC hits .288 in ACC-only play, while Clemson hits .293, good for 4th in the league. UNC's power numbers are not stellar, but since Elon and the start of ACC play neither are ours. Clemson has hit only 14 HRs in ACC play, 7th in the league. Watch for small ball this series.
Clemson is averaging 1.7 stolen bases per game in 2010, a big reason the Tigers are averaging 8.8 runs per contest. Clemson has a chance to reach 100 stolen bases, a mark that has not been reached since 2006, when that team swiped 107 bases. Chris Epps leads the team with 14 steals, while John Hinson is second with 13. Eight different players have stolen at least four bases as well.
Hinson is hitting a team-high .376 with eight homers, 43 RBIs, and 13 steals in just 35 games (25 starts). He homered 3 times against USC-Upstate. John Nester is currently on a 11-game hitting streak. I hope Jack will continue the lineup from Game 3 against GT, where Brad Miller led off, but I am not sure, so the lower half of the lineup may be totally switched around. Shaffer is listed as a 1B starter this weekend though.
|ACC Rank||ERA||ACC ERA||SHO/CBO||Saves||IP||H||R||ER||BB||Ks|
NC's biggest problem: walks. Mostly from their bullpen. Davis, Munnelly, Holt...these guys walk someone basically every other inning. It hasnt helped that guys who were thought to be aces, like Colin Bates, have come apart in big games of late. I still expect Bates to come in from the pen this weekend if one of the starters gets knocked around early. Messer has also made a mess with walking too many guys when he starts, so NC has basically had to dig around for a 3rd and midweek starter and are coming up empty.
Freshman righthander Michael Morin has a 5-1 record and three of the team's seven saves along with 29 strikeouts against only seven walks in 24.1 innings pitched over 18 relief appearances, but has a 5.92 ERA. As your closer? Ouch. In fact I only see 4 guys with ERAs under 4.00 in the pen, and only Bernard and Orlan have more than 10IP so far this year.
Clemson's pen isnt really any better. Haselden and Frederick are still the go-to guys, and both have ERAs just over 4.00. Lamb should be available in long relief and hopefully can get his issues worked out. Kevin Brady has a 3.27 ERA in 22 IP, so he's really done well for a freshman. The rest range from bad to very bad.
Considering that Clemson is the best at getting walked, we should see plenty of runners on base this weekend. When it gets to the pen, it looks like its a toss-up and with Harman's ERA climbing (along with his K's, strangely enough, less grounders) I'm not confident he can best Harvey, himself a future 1st rd pick. NC fields a little better than Clemson but not much. These teams are almost mirror images of one another, if you consider how Clemson has come apart the last month.
I still think the Tigers take 2 of 3.