JP's Weekly Walk-Off: Washington

The Beavers head north to Seattle to take on the rival Huskies. JP has your look at the match-up in his ever popular Weekly Walk-Off.

Ho-hum… another week, another sweep.  I kid, but at this point, the run the Beavs are on is so ridiculous, what can you say?  

THE WEEK THAT WAS

The Beavers continued to show a flair for the dramatic with a walk-off win in the opener via Steven Kwan’s 2-out RBI single, then took things a step further in game two by overcoming a 1-run deficit in the 16th inning of game two for another walk-off win.  Sunday, thankfully, was a less stressful affair as Jake Thompson dominated a game the Beavers trailed briefly in the 3rd, but were never seriously threatened after Grenier’s 3-run HR in the bottom of the 3rd.

  • Friday:  OSU 5 – Utah 4
  • Saturday:  OSU 5 – Utah 4 (16 innings)
  • Sunday:  OSU 5 – Utah 1
  • Tuesday:  OSU vs. Gonzaga – Rained Out

THE WEEK AHEAD

Game Times

  • Thursday: OSU (LHP Heimlich 5-0, 0.77) at Washington (LHP Michaels 1-2, 3.67) 6:00pm PDT
  • Friday: OSU (RHP Fehmel 3-1, 3.25) at Washington (RHP Nierenberg 1-1, 3.25) 2:00pm PDT
  • Saturday: OSU (RHP Thompson 7-0, 1.18) at Washington (TBA) 1:00pm PDT

Notes:

  • The Huskies are doing something different than most with their starting pitching, so don’t pay too much attention to those names and numbers for the starters they have listed.  I’ll detail their approach below and the names to focus on.
  • The Beavers won last year’s series at Goss 2-1 and have won the last three series and 7 of the last 10.  Neither team has swept the series since the Beavers won 3 on the road in 2005.
  • Husky Ballpark facts: field turf infield/outfield; seating capacity 2,400; dimensions (LF line to L-CF) 327/365/385 & (RF line to R-CF) 317/365/395. Largest home crowd of the season was 937 on 4/2 vs. Baylor… look for a strong OSU contingency to help them top that figure.
  • The Pac-12 Network will broadcast all three games.

OPPOSING PLAYERS TO WATCH

  • RF MJ Hubbs: .350, 7 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 21 RBI
  • C Joey Morgan: .343, 12 2B, 1 HR, 24 RBI
  • 3B Willie MacIver: .298, 5 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 20 RBI (hitting .364 in Pac-12 play)

RANDOM TOPICS OF THE WEEK

Husky notes…

In recent weeks Meggs has taken the unusual approach of starting what is essentially one of his mid/set-up relievers, with the hope they can log 2-4 decent innings to start the game, then turns it over to the arm that normally would be the starting pitcher with they hopes they can finish it.  In other words, Meggs simply doesn’t have a lot of faith in his bullpen, and hopes that if the game is on the line late, one of his three “pseudo-starters” will be in to finish.  It’s an unusual strategy that I’ve never seen employed and I couldn’t find any reference to others that have gone that route (but there must be someone that’s tired it before, as there’s very little that someone hasn’t tried before in baseball).

So, look for these three to be the horses that Meggs hopes to ride:

  • Friday: LHP Noah Bremer (3-2, 2.19 ERA 59 K in 53.1 IP) – a very legit “Friday Night Guy” in the Pac-12.  His numbers would be even better than they are were it not for an uncharacteristically bad outing vs. Sac State (6 IP, 6 H, 5 BB, 6 ER) and a loss to Indiana State the next week when he didn’t pitch badly but got little run support.  The Beavers hammered Bremer last year (3.1 IP, 10 H, 2 BB, 8 run, 6 ER) in the series opener.
  • Saturday: RHP Jordan Jones (4-4, 2.53 ERA) – the freshman has adapted well to Meggs’ scheme, as his three recent “non-start starts” against Utah, Baylor, and UCLA have seen him go 2-0 with just 10 hits and 1 ER allowed in 18 IP. Jones is a freshman and will be seeing his first action against OSU.
  • Sunday: RHP Joe Demers (3-2, 3.44) – Demers has been the exception to the “not going to start the starter” system, starting each of the last 8 weeks.  The Huskies listing Sunday as TBA may indicate that they may vary from that track, but ultimately, I would expect him (starting or not) to be the arm they hope to log most of the innings.  Demers pitched the second game of the series last year against OSU and did not factor in the decision after 6.1 IP of 5 hit, 2 ER ball.

After UW’s top three hitters in conference play (Morgan .484, Hubbs .364, and MacIver .364 – typically their 3-4-5 hitters) there is a precipitous drop to .238 when you get to their 4th best batting average,

In Pac-12 play the Huskies have K’d in over 25% of their AB’s (76 of 300).

While nobody asked me, I do consider Lindsay Meggs to be (in the parlance of the wise Colonel Sherman T Potter) “a horse’s patoot”.

Beaver notes…

If, like me, on Saturday you wondered “why isn’t Max getting the call” (despite how damn well Mulholland threw), a tip of the hat to Kerry Eggers for this mention in his 4/9 article in the Tribune: “…southpaw closer Max Engelbrekt couldn't go Sunday after experiencing back pain in the bullpen on Saturday.”  Hopefully nothing serious for Max, but back issues are dicey and it is certainly a situation that we will have to keep an eye on.

On the flip side, while just two batters in a game that was mostly under control, it was VERY good to see Mitch Hickey get the monkey off his back and have a good outing.  As much as everyone has been awaiting the return of Drew Rasmussen, in my humble opinion, getting Mitch back to form as a reliable late-innings right-hand option is maybe the most important goal for the pitching staff between now and the post-season.

Speaking of Drew, he threw against live hitters for the first time a week ago, which is another of the milepost steps in getting back into game action.  A check-up with his doc was to follow not long thereafter, so clearance to return to game action may not be far away.  From there, how quickly he can knock the rust off after having not seen game action since 3/24/16 will tell the tale of how ready he is to be a factor for the Beavs.  As Jace Frye showed in 2013, a late season return from TJ surgery isn’t always easy (0-1, 4.70 ERA in limited action).  But, fingers crossed and we shall see – at this point, simply the psychological boost to the team seeing their captain get back on the hill might well pay dividends as big as any innings he can contribute.

In the years I’ve been doing this for Blitz, I cannot think of a kid whose offensive struggles through his first 70 or so games as a Beaver confounded me more than Cadyn Grenier’s.  The kid had ALWAYS hit against good competition, and while his glove was so good he stayed in the lineup, I just knew eventually the light would come on and he wouldn’t be a guy you had to try to hide at the bottom of the order.  And that light has come on in a big way.  After hovering in the low 200’s during much of the non-conference schedule, through 12 conference games: .413, 2 2B, 3 HR, 9 RBI in Pac-12 play.

The Beavers have scored more runs in the first inning (32) than any other, and have scored 54 of their 169 runs in the first two innings, so a strategy of starting with less than your best arms to start a game seems to be one that OSU can exploit.

OSU has been putting out so many great notes about the winning streak and such that I really haven’t felt like I needed to touch on in.  It’s just amazing at this point, and I don’t know what else I could add.

Tip o’ the hat once again to OSUProf for weeding through the NCAA team and individual stat rankings to compile great lists of where the Beavs as a team and as individuals rank nationally. If you haven’t seen it, check it out here: OSU Baseball Superlatives

PAC-12 NEWS/NOTES/STATS

Trimmed the tables down this week in the interests of time (oh how I hate weeks where a series starts on Thursday), but next week I’ll try to get back to including the entire conference for the big picture view.

Pac-12 Offensive Category Team Rankings

Ave.

Slg %

OB %

Runs

2B

3B

HR

BB

K*

OSU

2

3

4

2

8

2

T-9

T-6

1

UW

9

7

9

9

5

5

6

5

11

*1st = fewest/best 

Pac-12 Pitching/Defense Category Team Rankings

ERA

Ave.

K

BB*

WP*

HBP*

HR*

Fld.

SB*

OSU

1

1

3

2

3

3

T-2

5

3

UW

3

2

6

5

1

4

8

1

T-1

*1st = fewest/best 

Some intriguing series this week involving the rest of the conference:

  • UO pitching @ UA and their hitting in a battle of top-25 teams (go ‘Cats!)
  • UCLA @ Stanford pits two teams I expect to finish in the top half of the conference
  • Cal @ Utah – Cal sits T-3 in the standings but I have a feeling they get a dose of reality as Utah is better than their record might indicate and I don’t think Cal is nearly as good as theirs
  • Wazzu @ ASU – two team not expected to be great, but were expected to be better than they’ve shown and the loser of this series may not have much life left the rest of the way.
  • USC has the non-conference slot this week, and playing CSU-Fullerton (winners of 6 in a row and having allowed just 8 runs in those 6 games) is not a great thing for a team that’s been up and down and somewhat underachieving.

PARTING SHOTS AND PREDICTIONS

The Beavers are on an incredible roll, and after the way Meggs seemed to under-sell OSU’s post-season resume’ during his role as the regional rep on the selection committee last year (hell, I’ll say it, he did the Beavs dirty and should be scorned for the lack of integrity), I suspect that as business-like as this team has been, they’ve had this series circled from day one and will be feeling salty and seeking a measure of revenge. 

23 in a row… the bubble has to burst any time now, and no team has swept this series in a dozen years… but, I’m going to take the Beavs to win all 3.  My only concern is if they press and come into it too amped up wanting blood, but I think they keep it under control and execute. If you’re a betting man, that would be a terrible play… but, “orange colored glasses” aside,  I think they pull off the sweep.

As always, if you have questions/comments/suggestions you’d like me to cover, by all means feel free to let me know either on the board or you can always e-mail me at jp@beaverblitz.com.    

NUMBERS TO GNAW ON…

OREGON STATE

WASHINGTON

Wins and Losses

Overall Record

28 – 1

19 – 12

Pac-12 Record

12 – 0

6 – 3

Home

13 – 0

10 – 5

Away/Neutral Site

15 – 1

9 – 7

Last 5 Games

5 – 0

3 – 2

Last 10 Games

10 – 0

6 – 4

Streak

Won 23

Won 1

Offensive Stats (Pac-12 games in parenthesis)

Runs/Game

5.83  (6.33)

5.16  (4.89)

Batting Ave.

.291  (.306)

.261  (.253)

OB %

.369  (.368)

.347  (.340)

SLG %

.403  (.420)

.379  (.400)

HR Per Game

0.41  (0.41)

0.55 (0.89)

Stolen Bases

29 – 38   (9 – 14)

23 – 37  (4 – 8)

Pitching Stats (Pac-12 games in parenthesis)

Team ERA

1.81  (2.35)

3.30  (2.84)

Opponent Bat. Ave.

.184  (.182)

.236  (.207)

Team WHIP

0.94  (1.01)

1.23  (1.11)

K per 9 Innings

8.52  (8.08)

7.41  (7.83

BB per 9 Innings

2.66  (3.58)

3.33  (3.40)

HR Allowed Per Game

0.41  (0.41)

0.58  (0.56)

Defensive Stats (Pac-12 games in parenthesis)

Fielding %

.974  (.979)

.985  (.994)

Stolen Bases Allowed

8 – 11  (2 – 3)

4 – 20  (2 – 5)

Rankings

RPI*

1

55

SOS*

32

81

ISR*

1

43

Polls**

1 – 1 – 1 – 1 – 1

RV – RV – NR – NR – NR

*RPI via NCAA.com - SOS via Warren Nolan - ISR via boydsworld.com

** Polls = ESPN/Coaches - Baseball Writers - D1 Baseball - Baseball America - Collegiate Baseball  [NR = Not Ranked; RV = Rec’d Votes]


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