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Clemson Regional 2016 NCAA Tournament: Oklahoma State Preview

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Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Oklahoma State Cowboys were originally preseason favorites in the Big 12. Sadly an inconsistent offense coupled with Texas Tech having a phenomenal season prevented the Cowboys from repeating their 2015 season. Despite this inconsistency the Cowboys have the ability to trouble Clemson and could win the Regional if things align for them this weekend.

Overall Record: 36-20

Conference Record: 16-8

Offense:

The Oklahoma State offense is frankly a bit anemic. The Cowboys don't have anyone that screams danger to opposing teams, but if the team hits well as a group they can cause some damage. Throughout the season the one theme with the team was a lack of run production. Most of the games Oklahoma State lost saw them score 1-3 runs, there were very few shootouts in general, and few they rarely won. It seems like opposing teams just have to focus on scoring, limiting the offense is not an extremely difficult thing.

Oklahoma State is 86th in the country in slugging percentage at .415 and a paltry .261 batting average makes them 205th in the country. Those are not inspiring numbers for Cowboy fans.The Cowboys also scored 322 runs over 56 games this year, good enough for 117th in the country and over 100 runs less than Clemson.

Despite the poor numbers, there are a few players for Clemson to watch out for. Donnie Walton and J.R. Davis are both hitting .352 and lead the Cowboys in batting average. Walton has a .446 OBP to lead the team and is slugging .471, second best on the team. Conor Costello has also been highlighted as one of the best hitters on the Cowboys, but his numbers aren't anything special. He's hitting .291 with a .394 OBP with 23 RBIs though he is slugging .526.

The big problem for Oklahoma State is that no one seems to have a great ability to drive in runs. Donnie Walton and Dustin Williams lead the team with 41 RBIs each, but the numbers drop off quickly after them. This makes things easier for opponents because they can pitch around the 2-3 dangerous hitters and go after the soft parts of the lineup.

Pitching:

As average as Oklahoma State's hitting is, the pitching is pretty good. The Cowboys have a team ERA of 3.47, good enough for 33rd in the country. For comparison they are almost a full run better than Clemson. The big name is Thomas Hatch, the Big 12 Pitcher of the Year. Hatch is 6-2 for the Cowboys with a 2.31 ERA. Assuming Clemson and Oklahoma State win their first games, it is unlikely we would see Hatch. Instead Clemson would have to deal with likely number 2 starter Jensen Elliott. Though he doesn't have Hatch's ERA of 2.31, Elliott is 8-2 with a 3.4 ERA in 15 starts. The good news though is that Elliott is only averaging 5.1 innings per start. That gives Clemson a shot at getting to the bullpen and causing some damage.

Out of the bullpen Carson Teel, Joe Lienhard, Alex Hackerott, and Garrett Williams are the 4 main guys for the Cowboys. Williams has a pretty high ERA at 6.75, but the other 3 relievers have ERAs of 4 and below. Teel seems to be the main guy though with a 2.93 ERA and the most innings pitched as a reliever. Though the bullpen does get strikeouts, their control doesn't seem to be the best. These 4 relievers do give up a decent number of walks and patience at the plate could pay off for opposing teams

Defense:

This is easily Oklahoma State's best area of the team. The Cowboys are 24th in the country in fielding percentage at .975. Unlike Clemson, it seems as though the Cowboys are more than able to catch the ball and make the expected play. For opponents this obviously means they have to get good hits. Teams can't rely on Oklahoma State making mistakes and giving up easy hits.