The first 3 weeks of the 2014 baseball season are in the books, and with only a few little surprises here and there (some good, some not so good), it’s pretty much gone as expected as the Pack has won 10 out of its first dozen contests.
One of the not so good surprises is that all-everything junior lefty Carlos Rodon’s early season record sits at 1 win against 2 losses. Yes, in both of the Pack’s losses Rodon was the pitcher of record.
But it doesn’t take a lot of deep investigation into the stats to see that thus far, Rodon has once again been the victim of poor run support. The Pack has lost two games, both of which are hung on Rodon’s back, and both of which were shutouts for the opposition (Canisius 3-0, UCLA 2-0).
Now that’s not to say that Rodon has yet been in mid-season form or that some of the responsibility for those losses doesn’t belong to him. Having perodically battled control issues he has complicated things for himself at times. Nonetheless, his ERA still sits at a more than respectable 2.14 (also, if your teammates don’t score any runs for you, winning is a tall order no matter how well you pitch).
Bottom line….I’m not at all worried about Carlos Rodon.
What about the rest of the pitching staff?
Well I’m awfully glad you asked me that.
Junior righty Logan Jernigan has been consistently stifling thus far. His ERA of 1.04 leads the team, as does his against avg. of .161. Soph lefty Brad Stone has also been pretty darned good so far, with an ERA of 2.20 and an against avg. of .193. Along with Rodon, they could end up being quite a weekend rotation for opposing hitters to face.
Junior lefty Patrick Peterson, a newcomer to the Pack’s staff (transfer from Temple) has manned the weekday starter slot thus far, with an ERA of 5.84 and and against avg. of .300.
The Pack’s bullpen has been just this side of awesome, btw, including newcomer junior righty Eric Peterson (Patrick’s brother, also a Temple transfer). With only a single earned run yielded in 8.2 IP for an ERA of 1.04, and a .111 against avg., Eric has been one of many bright spots out of the pen, along with senior righty Andrew Woeck (9.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, .161 against avg), soph righty John Olczak (6.0 IP, 0.00 ERA, .105 against avg) and senior lefty DJ Thomas (5.1 IP, 1.69 ERA, .211 against avg).
The bullpen’s numbers as a whole: ERA 1.58, against avg .187. Not too shabby.
Feast or Famine.
As mentioned above, the Pack’s only two losses thus far came when the bats went completely silent. Fortunately, that sort of famine has only happened twice so far, and the batting order has more often feasted, at times in bunches.
As a team, the Pack is batting .293 and scoring more than 8 runs per game. The usual suspects have been present and accounted for (Trea Turner .370 avg, 7 RBI, 13 runs scored; Brett Austin .333 avg, 6 RBI, 12 runs scored; Jake Fincher .306 avg, 7 RBI, 11 runs scored) but there have been some pleasant surprises at the plate as well.
Logan Ratledge has recently found a groove, elevating his avg to .244 with 2HR, 10 RBI, and 10 runs scored (if we played NC A&T every game he might just be an All-American….inside joke for those of you who have been paying attention thus far). Jake Armstrong (.258, 2HR, 7RBI, 9 runs scored) and JC transfer Bubby Riley (.277, 9RBI, 8 runs scored) have each provided some pop as well.
But perhaps surprisingly, the biggest early offensive stick belongs to Andrew Knizner. The freshman 3rd baseman leads the team (and the ACC) in avg (.432). He is also tops on the team in RBI (12), doubles (4) and slgpct (.659). His two HRs also ties him for first on the team (Ratledge, Armstrong). He’s gone down on strikes only twice, but interestingly enough he has yet to draw a walk. That will change if he keeps up that kind of offensive production however.
So….consider yourselves caught up on the Pack9′s first three weeks of play in 2014.
ACC Play Begins
This weekend the Pack welcomes conference newcomers the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame to town for their very first ACC series ever.
5-6 (0-0), Last 10: 4-6, Streak: Won 2
2013: 34-24 (10-14 Big East)
The Irish are a bit of a mystery thus far in the early going. Offensively, the Irish have had a hard time scoring runs at times, averaging well under 5 runs per game with a team avg of only .247. On the other hand however, they’ve been fairly solid with pitching (staff ERA 3.27, against avg .254).
One big factor to keep in mind however, is that the Irish have been road warriors so far in ’14 and have not yet played a true home game (1-2 Away, 4-4 Neutral). Also, they’ve been in the triangle for well over a week, having hosted the Irish Classic at the USA Baseball complex in Cary last weekend. I don’t know what that all means, if anything, but they likely won’t be tired from travel and by now have probably at least become somewhat accustomed to being away from home.
Zak Kutsulis (#16,JR,LF) – .295 avg, 6RBI, 6 runs scored, 4 doubles, 11K/3BB, 3/3 sb.
Lane Richards (#4,SO,SS) – .278 avg, 1RBI, 5 runs scored, 4 doubles, 9K/2BB, 1/1 sb.
Blaise Lezynski (#8,JR,IF/OF/DH) – .273 avg, 7RBI, 5 runs scored, 2 doubles, 8K/2BB, 2/2 sb.
Cavan Biggio (#23,FR,2B) – .263avg, 1HR, 4RBI, 8 runs scored, 6K/7BB, 4/4 sb.
As a general rule, the Irish strikeout more than they walk, a good thing considering our staff’s performance thus far. For the most part they have been a very good basestealing team when they get aboard (18/22 as a team).
Remember the name Cavan Biggio. He’s a freshman and he hasn’t found his groove just yet, but he will (hopefully not this weekend). His last name is not a coincidence.
The three starters the Pack will be facing are:
Sean Fitzgerald (#18,SR,RHP) – 2-1, ERA 1.93, against avg .143, 20K/6BB
Nick McCarty (#5,SO,RHP) – 0-2, ERA 3.86, against avg .262, 7K/5BB
Robert Youngdahl (#25,JR,LHP) – 1-0, ERA 2.03, against avg .261, 7K/15BB
Defensively, the Irish are fairly solid, though first baseman Ryan Bull has been suspect at times, as have Biggio (2B) and Fiala (3B).
Games Schedule – Probable Starters – TV
Updated to reflect Friday’s weather issues:
- Saturday, March 8 – Game One (2pm) – Carlos Rodon vs Sean Fitzgerald – ESPN3
- Saturday, March 8 – Game Two (approx 30 mins after Game One) – Logan Jernigan vs Nick McCarty – ESPN3
- Sunday, March 9, 2pm – Brad Stone vs Robert Youngdahl – ESPN3
Weekend notes (GoPack.com)
Elsewhere in the ACC This Weekend
- Pitt @ Carolina
- Wake @ GT
- UVa @ Duke
- UMD @ FSU
- VT @ Clemson
- BC @ Miami
Hopefully, the Pack can get off on the right foot this weekend in conference play because things will likely get difficult very quickly as the Pack hits the road to the sunshine state to first face Stetson in a midweek game next week (Tuesday, 3/11, 6:30pm), and then will face FSU for 3 next weekend in Tallahassee.