The Varsity Blue crew kind of threw me off by posting the USF preview so early, so I’m going to continue that pattern with this preview. I’ll have the Cincy post tomorrow with a general post on the Challenge and what it means to Michigan baseball, as well as college baseball in general. This being a conference opponent, there is a little bit more detail in this than normal. It will hopefully get a little more specific once we get to the actual conference season, when games really start to count. WordPress is also giving me formatting issues, so bear with for the time being. –FA
Home Team: TBA
Probable Pitchers: TBA vs Kolby Wood (RHP, 0-0)
M Record vs Opponent: 129-52
Last Series/Game: Michigan won 2 in the Big10 Tournament, last regular season match up was the 2007 series Michigan won 3 games to 1.
As stated above, this game, despite being against a conference opponent, is not a true conference game. Due to Louisville choosing to play Florida is a better venue than the Challenge, each Big10 team is playing one game against a conference opponent. The way the Big10 schedule works out, Big10 team misses out on one conference opponent per season, much like football does with the two opponents rotating off the schedule every two years. So, for a second year in a row, Michigan does not face Purdue during the regular season. To make up for the differing number of teams from each conference, the Big10 teams opted to face the conference opponent they would not be facing during conference season.
Purdue is coming off a very successful 2008 in which they finished 2nd in the Big10 regular season and was the last competitor to lose in the Big10 Championship. This year they are expected to rival, or even usurp Michigan as the winner of the Big10. Purdue may have lost stars Ryne White and Josh Lindblom, but they return nearly every other player on the team. They are by far the most experienced, and perhaps the best team on paper. That being said, as far as winning the Big10 is concerned, Baseball America puts it this way: “The Boilermakers last won a Big Ten title about the same time the Cubs won a World Series, in 1909.”
Michigan holds a fairly sizable lead in the historical series, as seen above. When we shorten the spectrum to the last 10 games, Michigan leads 8-2 spanning back to 2006. The two losses came closing out the 2006 series and opening the 2007 series (one at school’s home field).
Full preview after the jump…
The second most hyped offensive player this year in the Big10 appears to be junior, switch-hitting, third basemen (and backup catcher) Dan Black. Black had a break out season last year knocking 18 home runs (2nd in Big10) and 70 RBIs (2nd in Big10) while batting .320 overall. Black also had 15 doubles to add to his 131 total bases (3rd in the Big10). On defense, Black is a meh third baseman. He committed 13 errors last year for a .936 fielding percentage. That’s not great, but his bat created far more runs than his fielding gave up. Look for Black to be hitting three hole.
In the outfield, Purdue returns top hitter Brandon Haveman. Haveman had a batting average of .379 last year as the leadoff man. Haveman isn’t you’re prototypical leadoff man who is a singles machine. Haveman also had his fair share of extra-base hits with 16 doubles, 5 triples, and 2 home runs. He is also a threat on the bases, taking 12 of 18 attempts last season. On defense, he is pretty solid in the outfield. He is shifting from right to left field this year, but I doubt that change has much impact on his play. Haveman didn’t have the arm of a right fielder, so this should help by opening up right field for a new player.
Completing the top of the lineup in the two hole is senior second basemen Ben Wolgomat. Wolgomat started last year as the backup second basemen then exploded when given the opportunity to bat second behind Haveman. Wolgomat ended the year batting .368 with 44 runs in 45 starts.
Jon Moore is the returning center fielder for the Boilermakers. The senior will be making his third season a full time starter. As a junior last year he saw his average go up from .275 the year before to .321, providing much more protection for the heart of the order ahead of him. Moore came alive in the Big10 Tourney last year batting .462. His defense is also pretty solid, having 5 outfield assists and only 3 errors.
Junior shortstop Nick Overmyer also returns to the field this year for Purdue. Overmyer wasn’t all too impressive last year, hitting only .280 at or near the bottom of the order consistently. This year he is expected to have some stiff competition coming from freshman Barrett Serrato ($, Baseball America).
The starting catcher for the third season in a row is Eric Nielsen. Nielsen is one of the more Academic All Big10 players but holds his own behind the plate. His .288 batting average isn’t too exciting. His 40 strikeouts on the season last year is a big reason why. Unless we draw a lefty for this game, I imagine we’ll test his arm early and often. Nielsen only caught 12 of 52 stolen base attempts last year.
Alex Jaffee appears to be slated for right field this season after fully recovering from foot surgery last off season. Jaffee missed most of the 2008 season in rehab, but did manage 17 starts late in the season. He and Jonathon Lilly may be competing for that slot as well as the DH position. Neither has had huge success at the plate, but both have seen their fair share of game experience (over 115 games each).
Unfortunately, Purdue hasn’t announced probable starters yet, so we’re going to breeze through a few of them with limited stats.
Matt Bischoff is a beast. As a freshman in 2007 he earned Big10 Freshman of the Year honors. As a sophomore last year, he was First Team All Big10. The kid has great talent. He will start this year as Purdue’s ace. I doubt we see him as he will most likely start in their first game against Cincinnati, so we’ll skip over the important stuff. Just know we will see this guy in the Big10 Tourney in 4 months.
Behind Bischoff is a trio of left handers in Cook, Jansen, and Sestak. If I had my guess on who starts against us, it’d be Matt Jansen. Jansen was 4-3 last year with a 5.44 ERA in 16 appearances (9 starts). He generally occupied the Saturday opener last year. He’s had success against Michigan, all two innings he’s pitched. Last year he ended the year with a .309 opponent batting average and a 24:23 walk to strike out ratio in 51 innings. Jansen has however shown some flashes of brilliance, including his 8-0 shutout win over OSU last April.
My second choice of starter would be Kyle Cook. Cook had slightly better success in 2008 going 5-3 with a 4.65 ERA in 13 appearances (8 starts). His walk numbers were a little lower than Jansen’s, but still weren’t great.
Neither of these two pitchers went that deep into ball games. Jansen could routinely make it into the 5th inning. Cook tended between 3.5 and 6 innings per start with no consistency. As Saturday starters, that’s not a horrible thing, but with the end of Saturday double headers and this being a nine inning game, watch to see how much stamina the starter might have, especially this early in the season.
Purdue lost their top reliever/closer Josh Lindblom this past off season, so it is one of the few question marks on their roster. The leading candidate to close is junior Kevin Cahill. Cahill is a hard thrower, but he hadn’t quite grasped location as of last season. In his 14 appearances, mainly as the set up man, he posted a 4.25 ERA over 27.1 innings pitched. He did have 22 strike outs over the year and a .229 opponent batting average.
Reports out of Purdue expect Drew Wurdack to step in as the set up man. Wurdack pitched only 20.1 innings over 12 relief appearances last year. The numbers weren’t pretty either, including a 5.25 ERA.
Once we get to conference season, I’ll be breaking down batters vs. individual pitchers, but since this doesn’t quite carry the same importance, we’ll stick with just batters vs team pitching. At this point, Michigan has only seen 9.1 innings of returning Purdue pitchers anyways due to the Boilermakers not being on our schedule during the past season.
|Michigan Hitting vs Purdue Pitching|
|Kevin Cislo||21||5||10||4||0||2||2 2Bs|
What’s notable here is Cislo’s .476 batting average against Purdue pitching. LaMarre’s .333 average isn’t including that many at-bats, but he does have a home run. Berset struggled in the Big10 tournament last year. This was part of the reason Recknagel took over some of the catching duties in the NCAA tournament. The other four batters all made a defensive substitution in a Saturday game during the 2006 season. None of these guys were regulars then, and both teams let their scrubs play since Michigan had such a commanding lead.
|Purdue Hitting vs Michigan Pitching|
This table goes to show the depth of experienced upperclassmen Purdue has returning this year. They have nearly three times as many at bats against us as we do against them. Something else this chart says is how good of pitching we’ve had the last few years against Purdue. Purdue has averaged a strike out nearly once in every 4 at bats. That is a great number for Michigan and a testament to Zack Putnam, Chris Fetter, and Adam Abraham (whom have logged the most innings against these Purdue batters). It’ll be interesting how our pitchers go after the middle of their line up. Outside of Arizona and the Mets, this may be the best line up we face in the nonconference.
|Michigan Pitching vs Purdue Hitting
This chart gives us a more of what we already know. Michigan has been good against the Boilermakers. Chris Fetter has flat out owned them. He has an 1.50 ERA in three starts. Combined, the returners sport a nice 2.80 ERA and 6.62 Ks/9 innings.
|Purdue Pitching vs Michigan Hitting
The Purdue pitching staff hasn’t seen much of Michigan due to the year without playing. I wouldn’t put too much stock in those ERAs outside of Cook. The others were short relief appearances.
Purdue Weekly Release (pdf)
Posted under Baseball
Tags: alan oaks, ben jenzen, chris berset, chris fetter, eric katzman, eric wilson, kenny fellows, kevin cislo, mike dufek, nick urban, purdue, ryan lamarre, tim kalcsynski, tyler burgoon