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No. 12 FSU baseball midweek preview: 2/18 vs. USF

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The Bulls travel to town for Florida State’s first midweek matchup of the year

Brett Nevitt

The Seminoles head into week two of the season with one series win under their belt after back-to-back blowout wins over Niagara after an opening day loss. FSU will get their first midweek matchup of the year against USF tonight at 6:00 PM. The Bulls head into Tuesday’s game with a 2-2 record after an opening day loss to Marist and a 5-1 loss to FAMU yesterday. Through four games, USF has thrown the ball well, with a 3.38 ERA and 0.95 WHIP, but been unable to produce on offense with a team batting average of .181 and OBP of .298. The Bulls are coming off a down year in 2019, but still represent a quality in-state, non-conference challenge for the Seminoles.

Probable Starters: USF TBD vs. RHP Jack Anderson

How to watch: ACC Network Extra

Jack Anderson will get the start for the ‘Noles on Tuesday for his second career start. Anderson will work as an ‘opener,’ going 2-3 innings while likely going up to 50 pitches on his pitch count. The sophomore saw just six appearances in 2019, but has looked like a totally different pitcher this year. On Saturday, Anderson worked a 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts on 10 pitches. The RHP will work 90-92 with the fastball, 83-85 with the slider, and 81-83 with a changeup. Much of the improvement this year has come with the new slider, which gets swing-and-misses at a high rate. The key for Anderson is keeping the fastball low and out of the middle of the zone, if he does that he’ll be hard to touch.

USF is yet to announce a starter for Tuesday’s matchup, but will likely be thin on arms tonight. The Bulls will be playing for the fifth straight day to start the season after playing a rare Monday game.

USF top returnees

Jake Sullivan returned for his redshirt junior year after posting a .309 average, .421 OBP, and .430 SLG in 2019. The catcher hit .340 in the last 31 games of the 2019 season as he came up with 46 hits on the season. He also added four home runs on the year while driving in 21 runs. Sullivan walked more than he struck out last season, with 21 walks and 20 K’s. The redshirt junior has had a slow start to 2020, as he’s three for his first 19 at the plate.

Jordan Santos came into the 2020 season as USF’s top returnee in hits with 47 in 2019. Santos hit .255 on his junior season. He also led the team in walks in 2019, with 43 walks and an AAC high 0.83 walks per game. The middle infielder also posted an 18-game on-base streak in the middle of the season. Santos has started 2020 3/13 at the plate.

Dylan Burns could be one of the top options for the Bulls to start tonight. Burns made five midweek starts last season, while posting a 5.23 ERA. He threw four innings on opening weekend, giving up just one run while striking out four. He didn’t see any action Monday but threw 35 pitches on Sunday. If he doesn’t get the start, I’d be surprised if we don’t at least see him out of the pen.

FSU headlines to watch for

How will Junior approach midweek games?

Mike Martin Jr. has made it pretty clear that he wants to use his younger arms early and often in midweeks to get them in-game experience. If FSU doesn’t grab an early lead, we’ll see if that sticks for Meat when he goes to the pen for the first time after Anderson gets through the first few innings. Will Junior sacrifice some midweek games for the development of his younger pitchers? I would expect so, especially this early in the season. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Parker Messick or Dylan Simmons be the first guys out of the pen for FSU and Bryce Hubbart back in the late inning, high-leverage opportunities.

Can FSU put the ball in play at a higher rate?

After opening weekend, Florida State’s offense has a 13.7 K/9 after posting double digit strikeout numbers in every game vs. Niagara. FSU has to put the ball at a higher rate as the competition gets harder. When you put the ball in play, good things happen. The strikeout numbers are especially important with runners on base. So far this season, USF’s pitching staff has posted a 13.7 K/9 so it will be a tough test for the Seminoles’ offense.

Defense still an issue for Nander De Sedas?

Nander De Sedas heads into game four of the season with three errors already under his name. De Sedas looked much improved in fall exhibitions and practices, but once the real games got underway, the struggles came back. Sometimes, it looks like he’s sped up on the field, trying to get the ball out as quick as possible, rather than stepping through throws, which leads to short arming the ball and skipping the ball to first. He just needs to hit the reset button and try to slow the game down a bit. He has all the physical skills to be an elite defender, he just needs to keep it simple in game.