This weekend Clemson hosts Louisville in a series that could secure 2nd place in the Atlantic for the Tigers. Currently Clemson is 1 game ahead of Wake Forest in the standings, a sweep of Louisville coupled with Wake Forest getting swept by FSU will guarantee 2nd place.
Unfortunately that isn’t likely because FSU will find a way to win at least one. But Clemson still has something to play for, a national seed. Clemson getting swept by UNC has put the Tigers on the bubble of national seeds. Most projections have them as a 6th or 7th national seed. Another sweep by one of the top teams in the country would probably knock them out of the national seed conversation. Clemson will need to win at least one, and really two of the games this weekend to solidify that national seed and avoid the need for a deep tournament run.
Note the Friday game has been moved up to 1:00pm to avoid inclement weather.
Friday May 12th, 1:00pm EST: ACC Network Extra, Tigercast
Saturday May 13th, 4:00pm EST: ACC Network Extra, Tigercast
Sunday May 14th, 12:00pm EST: ESPN2, Tigercast
Louisville is an elite team. The Cardinals are going to be a national seed this year and they provide a great test for Clemson. The Tigers have shown they can get into a great position against good teams like UNC, but Louisville gives them a second chance to actually close out some games.
The bullpen is going to be a big question for Clemson. The last two weeks have seen the bullpen attempt to do their best Detroit Tigers imitation, not a very good thing. If Clemson can shore up their bullpen problems with some quality innings then that sense of dread we all have going into the end of the game should dissipate.
For Louisville, well they are 43-6 this year and they don’t have many holes. Their three starters don’t have an ERA above 3.01 and have combined for 17-4 record. That’s pretty good and includes over 210 strikeouts. In ACC play Louisville has a 2.60 ERA. If there is an upside for Clemson it is that all three pitchers can be a little wild. The starters have walked nearly 50 batters and Clemson may need to work the count as much as possible this weekend.
It is also worth pointing out that against better teams this year Louisville wasn’t outstanding. NC State, Wake Forest, Virginia, and even Duke were able to put runs on the board against the Cardinals. Clemson will have their opportunities to score, they just have to take advantage because Louisville has some excellent hitters.
For Clemson’s pitching the biggest thing is going to be avoiding the big innings. Louisville seems to thrive on big innings and their hitters are potent at all positions. They have 7 regular players hitting over .275 this year. The team is hitting .295 and also has some power. The Cardinals are hitting more than a home run a game and a slugging percentage of .466.
This is going to be a tough series for Clemson. But if Clemson can perform as well as they did against UNC, but close out the game with the bullpen, they can easily take this series and we may be talking about a sweep come Monday. If you’re in town this series is a great one to go see in person.