The Florida State Seminoles are coming off an impressive series victory on the road in conference. As mentioned in the preview Wake Forest is not a bad team, they have two great starting pitchers and an offense that has hit well this year. Seminole pitchers limited the Deacons to just six runs combined on Friday and Saturday but the absence of a legitimate third starter was evident on Sunday. Peter Miller lasted less than three innings for the third straight time and the Noles were down 7-1 by the end of the sixth.
Also discouraging was the lack of innings produced by the young starters, going into the weekend they were averaging less than five innings per start. This weekend they lasted 4.2, 5.0 and 2.2 innings, this might not hurt you against the likes of Wake Forest and Duke but as the competition gets tougher and the season wears on you need your starters to take you longer into the game and preserve your bullpen. Don't let anybody tell you different, how you get nine quality innings absolutely matters. This does not all fall completely on the shoulders of the pitchers, Friday starter Brandon Liebrandt was pulled in the fifth inning after only 68 pitches. I was unable to watch the game but from everything I've heard and read he wasn't pitching that bad or laboring. Only time will tell how much coddling of these pitchers is either helping or hurting them and the team but at this point I don't think it's beneficial to pull them at the first sign of trouble.
While not scoring many run the offense was still very productive walking 26 times and striking out 27. When you are getting that many runners on base you will eventually score runs and at a good clip. Stephen McGee has been a bright spot this season as he continues to play well and now leads the ACC in OBP during conference play. Senior CF James Ramsey continues to impress and in my opinion is single handedly saving the Noles season as he homered in every game this weekend. This question was recent asked in a chat with Baseball America's Aaron Fitt...
wayne (camarillo ca): who's the best college hitter?
He responded with...
Aaron Fitt: Right now, I think I have to say James Ramsey of Florida State. Tyler Naquin of Texas A&M is, I think, a better pure hitter, but Ramsey also can really hit and has considerably more power than Naquin, making him more dangerous overall. I wouldn't argue if you wanted to take Florida's Mike Zunino here, either (and as a catcher, Zunino is the best prospect of the lot).
Very high remarks from one of the best writers in college baseball and lucky for us both Ramsey and Zunino will be on display tonight as the Seminoles take on the Gators in Jacksonville. Inside a quick preview of both teams.
Does Florida have the best offense in the country? Yes, unfortunately there really isn't a weak spot on this team as was evident the first time around where the Gators pounded the Noles 9-2. Seminole pitchers were completely over matched against Florida giving up ten hits, four for extra bases and issuing seven walks. The Gators did lose a key player in 3B Josh Tobias who is out with a broken hamate bone. This is the same injury that plagued FSU 2B Devon Travis two years ago. While Travis' hand healed he is banged up tonight and is a maybe for the starting lineup. As mentioned over and over, Florida State still has a prolific lineup against average to good pitching. Unfortunately for the Seminoles the Gator pitching is better than that.
Does Florida have the best pitching staff in the country? Yes, this staff is ridicuoulsy deep. They are putting up amazing outings game after game with stud recruits. The biggest difference between an elite staff and Florida State is the K:BB ratio. This basically comes down to control and as you can see Florida's ratio is more than double that of Florida State's. I tweeted this stat earlier in the day...
#FSU pitchers K % of batters faced is only 0.9% less than #UF pitchers. However they walk 48.4% more of batters faced.
This is such a telling number, putting extra runners on base will kill you and when the caliber of hitters you face is elite you lose the majority of the time.
Stud reliever Greg Larson gets his first start of the season and has been stellar. He has a great K:BB ratio and a ridiculous H:9. It will be interesting to see how long he can go in the starter role but if he is pulled early there is a stable of horses right behind him. Scott Sitz who has had success against the Gators in the past starts for the Seminoles. Wwhile having a low ERA the rest of his numbers are not great and are more telling of the type of pitcher he has been this season.
The Seminoles face arguably one of the most talented teams of the last two decades tonight and while a win is possible I don't see it as probable. Game thread here tonight and can be viewed on SunSports starting at 7PM.