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Clemson Baseball

Clemson Baseball: Inside the Numbers - Georgia Tech Series

March 9, 2018
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Clemson heads into the opening weekend of ACC play with a sterling 12-1 record, including a 6-1 record in one run games.

After his performance on Tuesday, I was planning a few words about what a find Carson Spiers has been. Before the proverbial ink could dry Spiers had come in Wednesday with the bases jammed and one out in the 9th in a 9-7 game vs. Michigan State and promptly shut down the Spartans to preserve the win.  What a major plus out of the bullpen for Monte Lee and Andrew See.  After barely seeing the mound in 2017, Spiers has made 8 appearances, recorded a win, 2 saves, a 0.87 ERA, 0.48 WHIP, 12 strikeouts and only 1 walk. 

Perhaps the larger plus was giving Lee and See 3 and 2/3rds innings on Tuesday in a 5 game week, retiring 11 of the 12 batters he faced and picking up the win.  Add in the 2 he retired on Wednesday and Spiers has recorded a win, a save, and retired 13 of 14 batters he's faced this week.

Tuesday starter Travis Marr's outing wasn't beautiful, but he ate 5 innings, which is important in a scheduled 45 inning week, especially given what transpired Wednesday in regards to bullpen use.  Marr gave up some hits and 3 runs, but it wasn't a bad outing and one of those runs was the result of a collision between Seth Beer and Chris Williams.

Marr threw 90 pitches, which in my mind means it's doubtful he'll be available at all this weekend or perhaps Sunday for a few pitches. Such is life in a 5 game week with a college pitching staff.

The performances of Spiers and Marr mean even more now that the Tigers and Yellow Jackets could be looking at 3 games possibly condensed into a 24 hour period with Friday's game moved up 2 and a half hours and a double-header being considered for Saturday.

As of press time games are scheduled for 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday, pending weather.

Spencer Strider struggled Wednesday against a Michigan State team barely hitting .200 coming in, leading me to wonder if perhaps the starter missed most from 2017 is not named Barnes, Krall or Eubanks, but Tyler Jackson, who shut down team after team during mid-week contests.

Pitching

Jacob Hennessy has been unhittable the first time through the order and it's becoming apparent that the staff doesn't want the starters to go through the lineup a third time, which makes a lot of sense in my opinion. Unless someone is on a serious roll, give the batters a different release point and different stuff to look at later in the game.

NOTE: This only measures batting average, not on base or slugging percentage.

 

Leading Off

Michigan State put the leadoff batter on in 6 of 9 innings, scored in 4 of those innings and scored all 7 runs in innings when the leadoff batter reached.  That can't continue against Georgia Tech if the Tigers hope to be successful this weekend. 

Just like we all expected Drew Wharton is tied for the lead in RBI after 13 games. I kid. Only batting .233, Wharton has been clutch with men on base with less than 2 outs, coming up big against Wofford, knocking in the Tigers first run with a groundout and drawing a bases loaded walk to finish the day with 2 RBI.  Yep, 0 hits, but 2 quality, productive at bats.

I mentioned Tuesday that I could see Justin Hawkins getting the start at 2nd base.  He did and he delivered - as in a ball bouncing off the scoreboard for his second home run of the season (19 plate appearances to date).  With Grayson Byrd and Jordan Greene neither hitting or fielding, look for Hawkins to get an extensive look.  Against Wofford, he wasn't even taken out for defense like in earlier starts and he looked smooth and comfortable on defense.

Speaking of Hawkins, we may have seen a glimpse of the lineup when (and if) Chris Williams is healthy enough to catch: Hawkins at 3rd, Cromwell at 1st, Williams behind the plate, with Byrd at second.  Per Monte Lee, Williams was close to being ready to catch, but that was before the collision with Beer on Tuesday that relegated Williams to DH on Wednesday.

Williams is off to a good start and is tied with Wharton with 17 RBI.  Something to keep an eye on though is Williams propensity to hit the ball on the ground and in to double plays against left-handers.  He's either crushing the ball or grounding into DPs vs. lefties, with very little inbetween.

Finally, Bryce Teodosio has apparently hit a wall sooner than expected.  His average is down to .167, he popped up 3 times against Wofford, has struck out 17 times  and doesn't look confident at the plate.  We saw Drew Wharton move to center on Wednesday, with Jolly moving to left, but that likely had more to do with Williams taking the DH spot and wanting to keep Jolly's bat in the lineup, but it's worth noting that Lee has said Wharton can play center.

Batting

Quality At Bats

Davidson has made a move here, and the 8 walks against South Carolina didn't hurt.  Robert Jolly has taken a step back in the big picture, but has still be solid through 13 games. 

This metric is calculated different ways by different teams and at times can be subjective depending on who is measuring the at-bat.  The goal was to capture as much data as possible to better understand decisions made by the coaching staff.

Defense

As mentioned Hawkins appears to have solidified the one weak spot in the infield (second base), while the inconsistency in right continue to be a concern.  Hawkins had an error at 3rd on Thursday that led to a couple of unearned runs, but I would bet he'll be involved in some fashion (at 2nd or 3rd), at least for the foreseeable future.  If you need further evidence, check out the grin that Monte Lee tried to supress when talking about Hawkin's Tuesday blast off the scoreboard. 

Actual vs. Expected Record

A 6-1 record in 1 run games is good for the resume below, but is difficult to maintain over the course of a 56 game schedule. "Luck" has been on Clemson's side to some extent and that's reflected in the numbers below.  

Actual Record Expected Record "Luck" Expected Season Record
12-1 10-3 +2 42-14

Six one-run wins (and 7 total one-run games) in 13 games is unusual.  The Tigers only had 13 one-run games (9-4) across 63 games last season.  

Upcoming Schedule

Date Opponent Location Current Record Current RPI
3/9-3/11 Georgia Tech Clemson 9-3 12
3/13 Charleston Southern Clemson 6-8 185
3/16-3/18 North Carolina State Clemson 11-2 30
3/20 Coastal Carolina Conway 11-3 20
3/23-3/25 Louisville Louisville 12-0 100

Very Early Resume Review

It's never too early to review the resume, so here's the latest:

Record RPI SOS RPI 1-50 RPI 51-100 RPI 101-150 RPI 151-297
12-1 6 57 0-0 5-1 2-0 5-0

This early in the season RPI and strength of schedules tend to fluctuate wildly from game to game and week to week. This is a starting point and it's still too early to set expectations for this team.

*Baseball resume information via WarrenNolan.com.

 
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