Florida State Travels to Clemson

Ryan Syrkus - Tomahawk Nation

Florida State (17-3, 5-1) looks to rebound after a midweek loss to Florida. The Noles travel out of state for the first time all season where they will face the Clemson Tigers (13-7, 5-1) for first place in the division.

For the record Florida State is allowed to lose midweek games, it happens and as Dustin said in Tuesday's recap, "It was just one of those nights."  The Seminoles have a remarkable 44-9 (.830%) during midweek games since the 2011 season with 6 of the 9 losses coming to UF who in case you were unaware are a very good baseball program. Miami has 8 midweek losses from the beginning of last season including 4 this year and to some extremely poor teams.

The Tigers took a midweek beating on Tuesday, 14-5 at the hands of Georgia Southern before coming back on Wednesday with a 5-4 victory.  Clemson has some pretty bad losses this season (EMU and WCU) but three of their loses came to South Carolina who has been the best baseball program in the past five years. In conference the Tigers swept Virginia Tech and took care of Wake Forest in 2 of the 3 games.

OFFENSE

Clemson has a very good offense, what they lack in on base percentage they make up for in their ability to hit the ball.  With a .300 batting average and the 2nd highest slugging percentage in the league the Tigers are scoring 7 runs per game which puts them in the top 25 nationally.  Despite scoring only 1 run per game in their three loses the Noles have arguably the best offense in the country, they are defeating teams by a margin of 5.3 runs and have scored 6 plus runs in 70% of their games.

Clemson is also extremely aggressive on the base paths having twice as many attempts as Noles with 51 and have been very successful.  But you don't run on Danny "From the Streets", only six attempts on him all season and three of those have been thrown out.  If the Seminoles can pick their spots to run and keep their success rate above 75% they are in good shape.

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The Clemson lineup boasts 5 batters who are hitting over .300 and 4 of them have an on base percentage of .400 or greater. The only one who doesn't, Steve Wilkerson, leads the team in slugging percentage and has had some great at bats in previous matchups. Steve Duggar is 11 for 12 and Tyler Krieger is 9-12 in stolen bases on the season so if the Tigers do decide to gamble look for those to be the guys.

DJ Stewart has now reached base in 47 consecutive games which puts him 10 shy of Shane Robinson's team record of 57 consecutive.  The left fielder is one of the best players in the country and has incredible plate discipline leading the team in walk percentage but also in slugging as he has incredible gap power. Fans question Brett Knief in the cleanup spot but it's really hard to argue that decision when a guy is hitting .328/.425/.508, plus he is a much needed right handed bat in between two really good left handers.

PITCHING

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In their 13 wins the Tigers have allowed only 3.5 runs per game which is what makes them such a good team most of the time. However in their 7 losses their pitching has been practically nonexistent allowing a dreadful 9.3 per. The Florida State staff has been exceptional all season, especially the weekend rotation which is responsible for 13 quality starts in 14 starting appearances.

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Daniel Gossett has two wins in his career against the Noles where he has allowed 0 runs on 5 hits in 10 innings pitched. He has labored in those starts issuing 8 walks, striking out 5 but he has been very sharp this season for Clemson. Luke Weaver is coming of POW in the ACC after shutting down NCST and Carlos Rodon last Friday night. The right-handed junior was successful last season versus the Tigers throwing 7.1 innings and allowing only 1 run on 7 hits and 8 strikeouts.

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Hitters are teeing off on Matthew Crownover this season, a hits per nine over 10 is atrocious and I fully expect the Seminoles to take advantage of that much like they did last season when he did make it through the 5th inning. Lost in last week's marathon double header was the game pitched by Brandon Leibrandt.  The lefty didn't have his best stuff but managed to keep the Noles in the game striking out 8 and surrendering 6 hits in 5.1 innings.

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Jake Long has pitched with mixed results this year, his worst start came against Eastern Michigan while his best start came against South Carolina.  His control makes him very vulnerable to a Florida State lineup that has destroyed Sunday pitching all season. Mike Compton was having the best start to the season of any FSU pitcher until he hit a speed bump against NCST last week where he allowed 9 hits in the 4.1 innings he worked.

Matt Campbell and Clay Bates are two right handers out of the bullpen that have pitched with great success this season, combining for 33 strikeout and just 7 walks in 24 innings.  For the Noles right handed Gage Smith has pitched in 15 of the Florida State's 20 games this season and has been nearly perfect while Jameis Winston has allowed only 5 hits and 1 walks to the 39 batters he has faced, striking out 13 of them.

COVERAGE:

All 3 games are able to be viewed on ESPN3 starting tonight at 630PM. Saturday is again at 630 with Sunday being moved back to 2PM to accommodate Clemson's NIT game. This is always a good series and for the first time in a while it is played towards the beginning of conference play, the Seminoles are easily the better team and I do expect a series win.

See everyone here tonight at 630PM

Go Noles!

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