JP's Weekly Walk-Off: Civil War

The #1 ranked Beavers take a short bus ride south to take on rival Oregon which begins tonight. JP has everything you need to know going into the important series.

The Beavers hit the road this week for their final regular season games away from Goss, and two is the number of the weekend as that is the Beavers’ “magic number” to clinch the Pac-12 title, and Coach Pat Casey sits two short of his 1,000th coaching win.  Of course, the Beavers will be looking for not just two but three wins to sew up their 6th conference sweep of the year. 

THE WEEK THAT WAS

The Beavers bookended their first “slugfest” win of the year between another pair of dominant starts by Heimlich and Thompson. 

  • Friday:  OSU 8 – Cal 0
  • Saturday:  OSU 11 – Cal 10
  • Sunday:  OSU 10 – USC 2

THE WEEK AHEAD

Game Times:

  • Thursday: OSU (LHP Heimlich 6-1, 0.78) @UO (TBA) 6:00pm PDT
  • Friday: OSU (TBA) @ UO (LHP Peterson 10-2, 1.99) 7:00pm PDT
  • Saturday: OSU (RHP Thompson 9-0, 1.07) @ UO (RHP Mercer 5-5, 2.93) 7:00pm PDT
  • Tuesday: OSU (TBA) vs. Portland (TBA) 5:35pm PDT (Volcanoes Stadium, Keizer)

Notes:

  • Neither team announced their rotation, though UO did indicate that Peterson would be pushed back to Friday.  The rest are simply my best guess.
  • Peterson is 0-2 against the Beavers, last year losing due in large part to 5 uncharacteristic walks and bad UO defense (6.2 IP, 3 H, 6 R, 3 ER, 5 BB, 6K). Mercer picked up the win in his start in Corvallis last year (6.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 3 K).  Cole Stringer, normally a member of the weekend rotation, made three relief appearances against OSU in 2016 (4.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K).
  • The results of the last two series aren’t worth mentioning, but the Beavers have won 5 of the 8 series since the Ducks brought back their program.
  • PK Park facts: field turf; 335 down the LF/RF lines, 400 to center. Maximum capacity 4,000 (3,000 fixed seats and 1,000 standing room); 2017 average PK Park attendance: 1,249.  Attendance fun facts: OSU has drawn more fans their last 8 home games (27,271) than UO has all season (26,229 in 21 games) and the only time the Ducks cracked the 2,000 mark was the day of their spring football game (2,891), while OSU has topped 3K fans 10 times.        
  • All three games this weekend will be broadcast by the Pac-12 Network.  There will be no TV or video feed for the Tuesday night game.

OPPOSING PLAYERS TO WATCH

  • OF Jake Bennett: .279, 6 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 29 RBI (21 of his 29 RBI in Pac-12 play).
  • SS Kyle Kasser:  .318, 6 2B, 1 HR, 20 RBI.
  • Closer Kenyon Yovan: 1-1, 2.42, 13 saves, 30 K in 26 IP.

RANDOM TOPICS OF THE WEEK

Oregon notes…

It’s a shame that, while it (allegedly) never rains at Autzen Stadium, the same cannot be said of Bailey-Brayton Field in Pullman.  The rain-out last Friday in Pullman has created serous issues for the Ducks in terms of their starting pitching – particularly Thursday’s series opener.  Peterson and Mercer both threw 100+ pitches last Saturday (Peterson has been slotted for Friday) so neither of them make sense at this point of the season to work on such short rest, and while Stringer threw Sunday he could be an option with the eye on a short stint as he threw only 61 pitches.  Carranza started Tuesday against Portland and even though he threw only 30 pitches, it’s hard to see him starting again on just 1 day of rest but it’s not impossible.  Zach Noll (0-2, 8.53) has a pair of conference starts, but has been awful. 

Honestly, I think Thursday is more or less going to be “Johnny Wholestaff” for the Ducks.  Maybe Stringer opens it up hoping he can give them 3 or 4, but regardless of who starts I think we will see several Oregon pitchers that night trying to spread the work around.

Last week I found it was notable that Cal was just 5-19 when scoring fewer than 6 runs, this week it’s the other side of the ledger… UO is a pitiful 4-16 when their opponents score more than 3 runs. 

Key to success vs. Oregon: get an early lead.  UO is just 4-14 when trailing after 3 innings (1-15 trailing after 5).

Oddly, while not a good fielding team most of the year, the Ducks have not committed an error in their last 7 games (they committed 13 in the 7 games prior to that streak).  They’re due for errors in bunches.

Oregon did manage something earlier this week that only 7 other teams have managed this year… they lost to Portland.  Kudos to the Pilots for their first win over a team with a winning record!

Beaver notes…

For the Beavs, the big question is who is the 3rd man in the starting rotation this weekend?  I tend to think they’ll open as usual with Heimlich (despite UO moving Thompson to game 2) and keep Thompson (at least for this week) throwing the 3rd game, but even that is hard to say for sure as Casey and staff work to line things up for the post-season.  Plenty of candidates for that start, but I’m going to narrow my guesses down to 2/3 hunch it’s Britton and 1/3 Rasmussen.  Of course, history has shown it’s safer to bet against me than with when I start trying to figure out what Casey is going to do when it is uncertain whom the starting pitcher might be.

I think it has become easy to take KJ Harrison a bit for granted, and I’ve heard surprise and disappointment over his HR production being down, but it can’t be understated how important his improved hitting against good pitching/in conference play (.347) has been (compared to .239 and .236 his freshman and sophomore seasons respectively in Pac-12 games). 

Hat tip to Adley Rutschman for a really solid weekend both offensively and defensively.  You can see it all coming together amidst the struggles and growing pains.

And for those talking in The Lodge about a Steven Kwan fan club... I’m right there with you.  You pencil out a pre-season list of what you think the OF mixture looks like, maybe rank 1-6 the guys you expect to get the most innings and at this point you realize Jack Anderson and Kwan have been by far our best outfielders and you just have to appreciate how Pat Casey finds those guys that just grind and just work to get better and ultimately make him put them in the lineup via their production, even though other guys were supposed to theoretically win those jobs based on more natural talent.

They Beavers had scored 6 or more runs in back-to-back games only twice this season, and had only twice put together a 3-game run of 5 or more prior to putting up 8-11-10 on Cal.  Good sign that the bats are coming around.  Of course you have to go back 8 games to find 29 UO runs (and 6 of those games were against ASU and Wazzu the 11th and 8th teams in ERA in the Pac-12).

The Beavs lost 4 conference series last season (Cal, WSU, UA, uo); their record thus far this season against the teams that won those series: 6-0.  Let the tour of vengeance continue!

PAC-12 NEWS/NOTES/STATS

Pac-12 Offensive Category Team Rankings

 

Ave.

Slg %

OB %

Runs

2B

3B

HR

BB

K*

OSU

2

4

3

4

T-6

3

T-10

T-3

1

UO

10

11

6

10

11

4

T-10

2

3

*1st = fewest/best 

 

Pac-12 Pitching/Defense Category Team Rankings

 

ERA

Ave.

K

BB*

WP*

HBP*

HR*

Fld.

SB*

OSU

1

1

4

2

2

2

2

4

3

UO

5

5

2

1

4

4

3

6

1

*1st = fewest/best 

Not really an intriguing weekend on the schedule – there are a couple rivalry series, but every series pairs either two teams with no post-season hopes at this point, or one that does have a legitimate shot against another that does not.

But, the quick story lines:

  • Stanford just needs to keep piling up wins to solidify what is now looking like the resume for a national seed.
  • Arizona has the OOC series (Charleston) this week in the conference and simply needs to tune up for their final two series which will determine if they hope to host a regional.  Their over-all record (36-16) and RPI (15) are host-worthy but they gotta spiff up that 12-12 conference record.  Finishing with ASU and Cal gives them a good chance to do so.
  • UCLA just needs to win – their 13-8 conference record will buy them some grace on their over-all record (currently just 24-21), but their RPI of 53 is borderline and anything less than 7 of their last 10 is going to be problematic [32 is typically a really low mark and 34 typically a big break point on getting in], and they better win 8 or 9 to feel safe.  That job starts with a series at Wazzu this weekend.
  • Washington is in the same boat, only worse, as their conference record is only 10-11 and their RPI is over 60 to go with their 24-21 season record.  They host ASU which should help, as the Sun Devils have become a bit of a dumpster fire the past week with their starting CF being dismissed from the team (apparently he had a bad attitude), a teammate quitting in response to that dismissal, and three other Sun Devils opting to simply pack it in after being told they’d likely not be used much the rest of this year and that they didn’t have much of a future at ASU.  Not sure even Pinocchio Meggs fudging the data in his favor in his role on the regional advisory group (“oh we’re 9-1 against top 50 RPI teams and 17-2 against the top 100, and oh by the way I’m pretty sure OSU has lost to every good team they faced”) will save them.  Very thin bubble they’re treading on.
  • Oh, Utes, you loveable Utes… I believed - for a while I really did… but you pooped the bed two weeks in a row and now your hopes are dead.  They face USC at home in a series nobody outside of players’ moms and girlfriends care about.    

Pac-12 at one point looked like maybe they could get 7 and some crazy talk proposing 8 in the tourney… now getting even five (I’m looking at you, UW – and don’t look smug UCLA, you’re in the same mess) is looking dicey.

PARTING SHOTS AND PREDICTIONS

It’s Ducks vs. Beavers, so I really could craft this section mostly by cut-n-paste work from what I’ve written the past few years.  Good pitching on both sides, though better and deeper for OSU this year by far.  Ducks don’t play defense as well.  OSU’s offense is better (this year the Ducks offense is better than some years, but OSU’s has been even better than those other years as well).

What can I say for a prediction… it’s all coming up 2’s.  Casey needs two to get to 1,000 career wins, the Beavs magic number is two to clinch the conference title, we’ve inexplicably lost 2 series in a row to those [redacted adjective]… hell my birthday is the 2nd.  

Naturally, I ignore all the signs and say we 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

OREGON

Wins and Losses

Overall Record

38 – 4

26 – 18

Pac-12 Record

21 – 3

9 – 12

Home

19 – 1

15 – 6

Away/Neutral Site

19 – 3

11 – 12

Last 5 Games

5 – 0

1 – 4

Last 10 Games

8 – 2

3 – 7

Streak

Won 5

Lost 3

Offensive Stats (Pac-12 games in parenthesis)

Runs/Game

5.64  (5.83)

4.80  (4.57)

Batting Ave.

.289  (.296)

.259  (.265)

OB %

.375  (.379)

.365  (.358)

SLG %

.397  (.404)

.354  (.360)

HR Per Game

0.38  (0.38)

0.36  (0.33)

Stolen Bases

46 – 55  (23 – 28)

25 – 43  (10 – 18)

Pitching Stats (Pac-12 games in parenthesis)

Team ERA

1.99  (2.42)

3.63  (4.97)

Opponent Bat. Ave.

.198  (.210)

.255  (.291)

Team WHIP

0.99  (1.09)

1.24  (1.43)

K per 9 Innings

8.25  (7.87)

8.79  (8.26)

BB per 9 Innings

2.59  (3.07)

2.37  (2.46)

HR Allowed Per Game

0.43  (0.46)

0.43  (0.48)

Defensive Stats (Pac-12 games in parenthesis)

Fielding %

.978  (.983)

.973  (.970)

Stolen Bases Allowed

13 – 20  (7 – 12)

9 – 22  (3 – 8)

Rankings

RPI*

1

76

SOS*

41

105

ISR*

1

48

Polls**

1 – 1 – 1 – 1 – 1

NR – NR – 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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