Between an exam, a research paper, and 6 games umpired this week, I’m a bit behind schedule for the Michigan State series. I’ll touch quickly then leave it to the team to figure out. First pitch is only an hour away (now 10 minutes as I finish) as I type this (starts 3:05).
@/vs./@ Michigan State
3:05pm Friday, 1:05pm Saturday, 1:05pm Sunday
McLane Stadium/Ray Fisher Stadium/McLane Stadium
East Lansing, MI/Ann Arbor, MI/East Lansing, MI
Media Game 1: Live Stats
Probable Starters Game 1: Chris Fetter (5-1) vs. Nolan Moody (4-4)
Media Game 2: Live Stats and Audio (WBCN)
Probable Starters Game 2: Achter (1-3) vs Eric Katzman (5-2)
Media Game 3: Live Stats and Audio (MGoBlue)
Probable Starters Game 3: TBA vs TBA
Series: Michigan leads 188-95-2
Last Meeting: Michigan UM swept all 4 last season
Last Michigan Loss: Recap – 6-7, (April 2006 @ UM), last series loss (1-3) was 2002 (tied in ’04 at 2-2)
The Spartans enter the intrastate matchup with a record of 12-21, 3-6 in the BigTen (8th place). They are, however, 9-0 at their new stadium this year. As a team, the wins they have are due to great pitching, and not much to do with hitting at all. As a team, Michigan State ranks 265 out of 288 teams in team batting average at just .265 (as of Tuesday). The Spartans only fall in the top 200 of three offensive categories tracked by the NCAA, stolen bases per game(116), stolen bases (108), and sacrifice flies (15).
Johnny Lee is their leading hitter at .315 average. To contrast how low that is, Michigan’s leading hitter is batting .385, and we have 5 batters with a higher average than .320. Lee also is the team leader in strikeouts with 28, but as a team, they don’t strikeout nearly as much as Michigan.
Eli Boike is the Spartans leading slugger at .522, but he only has 6 home runs and 6 doubles on the season, which isn’t all that great. Boike is also a threat on the bases with 8 steals so far on the season. Jeff Holm is their current stolen base leader (11 for 12).
Their team ERA however is good for 105th at 5.03, just .02 behind Michigan. They are lead by Friday starter Nolan Moody, who has thrown 2 complete games (one shutout). Moody has made 8 appearances this year, winning 4 of them (4-4 record…lack of run support). His 3.25 ERA is tops among Spartan starters. The number two in the Spartans rotation also has a pretty nice ERA at 3.49, but also has a 1-3 record in 8 starts. Tough luck for those guys.
The good news for Michigan is that the Spartans don’t strike many batters out or force many double plays. The 5.4 strikeouts per nine innings is one of the lowest we’ve seen this year, and State only turns about as many double plays as we do (.84 a game). They walk plenty, too – 4.6 per game.
Weather looks good today and tomorrow, but it may be questionable on Sunday for the finale. Otherwise, absolutely gorgeous the for the first two games.
Winds aren’t a factor today, but tomorrow they’ll be blowing in.
Its Alumni day and the retirement of Jim Abbott’s #31 jersey on Saturday.
I think Michigan can win two games out of this fairly easily, but the two games I’m thinking we win are games 2 and 3. I’m not as confident about game 3, but I think it’s winnable. Game one should be a hell of a pitchers’ duel, facing off two of the best in the BigTen. Game one will depend on which Michigan team shows up at the plate. MSU isn’t a very good hitting team, so this game could come down to a 2-1 or lower score. That said, I jokingly expect it to be some 15-13 score just because I said it would be low.
I’m hoping we see some solid pitching now that Berset is back and a slightly improved offense. Go Blue!