Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

2017 CWS Group Winners and CWS Final preview



Here’s a recap of our CWS coverage so far for 2017:

Lets review the CWS group play.  The CWS plays just one or two games a day; a far cry from the first weekend, where 64 teams played hundreds of games over the course of a long weekend.  So this post has been written in one or two sentence increments for a week and a half…

My pre-CWS predictions were LSU from the top and TCU from the bottom.  My predictions weren’t looking too hot after the first day, but ended up being half right.  Read on.

In the Top Bracket (#1 Oregon State, Cal-State Fullerton, #12 Florida State, #4 LSU)

  • In the opening games, Oregon State overcame a bad outing from Jake Thompson, rallying to top Cal-State Fullerton 6-5.  Meanwhile, LSU similarly overcame a bad outing from its ace Alex Lange, getting a shutdown relief effort from #2 starter Jared Poche and the one-out close-out from Virginia native Zach Hess to beat Florida State 5-4.
  • In the first elimination game, Florida State took advantage of 8 CS-F walks to win 6-4 and eliminate the Titans.
  • In the winner’s bracket game, Oregon State made a pretty large statement by destroying LSU 13-1.  OSU’s Bryan Fehmel totally baffled LSU for 8 innings, giving up just 1 run on 2 hits (the run was on a very large homer in the 8th inning when the game was well in hand).   LSU’s staff walked *twelve* batters and never had a chance.
  • In the play-in game to the group final, LSU’s Poche came back on short rest and dominated FSU for 8 innings, giving up just one unearned run.  After back-to-back crushed homers to open the 9th, Lynchburg’s Hess came on and just blew away three hitters to close out the game with 95-96 heat and a fantastic curve.  LSU moves on.
  • In the group final, OSU could do nothing with LSU’s ace Lange, who gave up just two hits through 7 and a third; then super closer Hess came on and struck out 4 of the 5 guys he faced to force a winner-take-all game to close out the group.  Its only fitting.  I’m not the only one gushing over Hess; the CWS broadcasters spent a full inning talking about him … in the TCU/Florida game.  In the winner take all game on 6/24/17, LSU got to OSU’s starter early, their own starter was fantastic (mid-week starter Caleb Gilbert gave up just 2 hits through 7 and change before handing the ball over to Hess once again.  LSU comes back through the loser’s bracket to advance.  Its hard not to say that the loss of OSU’s ace Luke Heimlich didn’t affect the outcome of this CWS: I have no issues saying that LSU would have been much harder pressed to overcome OSU two days in a row if they had to face a guy with a 0.76 ERA on the season.

Final Group standings: LSU, Oregon State, Florida State, Cal-State Fullerton.


In the Bottom Bracket (Texas A&M, #7 Louisville, #6 TCU, #3 Florida)

  • In the opening games, Louisville overcame a bad start from its #1 draft pick Brendan McCay to bash their way to victory over TAMU 8-4.  In the nightcap, Florida rode a fantastic outing from its 1st rounder Alex Faedo, who shut down TCU on 2 hits over 7 innings for a 3-0 victory, severely dampening TCU’s chances and my predictions.
  • In the first elimination game, TCU got a stellar start from Brian Howard (12ks in 7 innings) and eliminated TAMU 4-1.
  • In the winner’s bracket game, Florida got a dominant start from its #2 starter (and likely 2018 early 1st rounder Brady Singer), who gave up just one run in 7 innings and Florida eased by Louisville 5-1.
  • In the play-in game to the group final, two of the best teams all  year in Louisville and TCU met in a loser-goes-home game.  TCU got 4 runs early on Louisville’s #3 starter and their freshman ace Nick Lodolo  combined forces with Sean Wymer to make it stick.
  • In the group final, TCU broke out against Florida’s bullpen and won a laugher 9-2 to force the winner-take-all game.  Again, only fitting given the talent that is in this CWS.  However, in the final game, Florida’s Faedo shut down TCU and Florida got just enough against TCU’s Jared Janczak to advance.  Florida to the CWS final.

Final Group standings: Florida, TCU, Louisville, TAMU


CWS finals discussion: Games 1,2,3 set for M-T-W June 26, 27,28

Pitching Matchups (LSU stats and Florida Stats):

  • Game 1:  Monday 6/26/17: LSU’s #2 Starter Jared Poche (12-3, 3.33 ERA on the season) with 4 days rest vs Florida’s #2 starter Brady Singer (8-5, 3.18 ERA) on 5 days rest.
  • Game 2: Tuesday 6/27/17: LSU’s #1 Starter Alex Lange (10-5, 2.97 ERA) with 3 days rest vs Florida’s #3 starter Jackson Kower (12-1, 4.15 ERA) on 3 days rest.
  • Game 3: Wednesday 6/28/17: LSU’s mid-week starter Caleb Gilbert (7-1 with a 2.85 ERA) with 3 days rest vs Florida’s #1 Alex Faedo (9-2, 2.26 ERA)  on 3 days rest.

LSU’s missing their #2 starter (Eric Walker), who left the 2nd game of the CWS early and has not returned.  This puts them in a bind, having to use both Lange and Gilbert on short rest.  If Walker could return, they’d likely go Poche-Walker-Lange in that order.  But, Gilbert was awesome in the OSU elimination game, so its not a big step down.  Meanwhile, Florida burned Faedo to get to the final, and they may struggle to cobble together enough pitching to last the final.  Singer is ready to go game one and will be a tough out, but Kower isn’t going to slow LSU’s bats, so it may come down to how far they push Faedo on 3 days rest and after throwing a 113 pitch gem in the group final.

These teams met in March at Florida, with the Gators winning Faedo and Singer’s starts before LSU battering Kower to take the Sunday finale.  I see the same pattern here: I think Singer shuts down LSU in game one, Lange does likewise in game 2 while LSU batters Kower again, leading to a distinct pitching advantage in game three.

Prediction: Florida in 3.

College CWS tournament references

12 Responses to '2017 CWS Group Winners and CWS Final preview'

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  1. FLA would seem to have a considerable advantage if they can make it to Faedo in game 3.

    Any further scouting reports on the Nat draftees from what you’ve seen?


    26 Jun 17 at 10:12 am

  2. Not much else to report. I will say this: I’m amazed by Virginia product Zach Hess. Sits 95-96 with good command, can cut the fastball and have it move almost like a slider at 92, overhand curve that just froze some hitters. His stuff was so electric that the announcers spent an entire inning talking about it … in the NEXT GAME. Here’s his line for the four games he’s pitched in at the CWS: 4 2/3rds inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 3 walks, 10Ks, 3 saves.

    I knew about him of course; he was a High School all american last year and was a 35th round pick. What amazes me is that his arm didn’t play up more in pre-draft coverage. Perhaps he wasn’t consistently throwing that hard as a starter. But still; he’s looking like a major draft pick next year (he’ll be a draft eligible sophomore in 2018).

    Todd Boss

    26 Jun 17 at 10:46 am

  3. CWS predictions; yeha I don’t think LSU beats either Singer or Faedo. So they’re in a tough spot. But Faedo will be on very short rest in game 3 so that could have an impact.

    Todd Boss

    26 Jun 17 at 10:47 am

  4. An interesting piece from an area of Fangraphs that I don’t often read, all the more so considering how many young lefties the Nats have moving through the system:

    The “Walk Rates” graph, which, according to the author, shows that lefties never really shake their wildness, led me to an alternative thought: what if umps have a harder time judging the strike zone for LHP since they see fewer of them?


    26 Jun 17 at 10:53 am

  5. Lots of good info here on the processing of the draftees:

    Janes says that both Soto and C. Kieboom are still in WPB rehabbing.


    26 Jun 17 at 11:52 am

  6. GCL up! And Antuna is not only on the roster, he is in the starting lineup. Antuna at SS, Garcia at 2B, Sanchez at 3B, Pineda at C and Mendez in CF – five Dominican bonus babies from last draft in the starting lineup, skipping the DSL! Wow!

    Draftees taking a back seat – Blash is the DH and hitting cleanup, Falcon (LF) and Ventura (RF) are Dominicans, only 1B Jackson Cramer, a 35rd pick, appears. Weston Davis is back from injury and on the bump.

    So, lots more unopened gifts coming our way. But we have our first answers about 7/2/16, a truly historic day for the organization.


    27 Jun 17 at 12:41 pm

  7. Woo hoo! I’ll do a roster review of the pitchers like I did for Auburn.

    Todd Boss

    27 Jun 17 at 2:48 pm

  8. Very impressive presentation on day 1. Not one player on GCL who played today was a holdover from last year’s team. Complete turnover.

    Moreover, the two hitting stars for the team were 17 years old. Seven walks, including two from the 16 year old.

    And best of all outstanding clutch hitting in the ninth inning. It almost looks as if they have had the nucleus of this squad practicing together in XST for a number of months.


    27 Jun 17 at 3:37 pm

  9. Now we know why it was easy to avoid drafting position players in the early rounds….


    27 Jun 17 at 3:38 pm

  10. Maybe this is Rizzo’s new inefficiency. Get all your hitters from the IFA market, all your arms from the collegiate market in the draft.

    Todd Boss

    28 Jun 17 at 8:59 am

  11. Antuna had three hits . . . and three errors. He’s the age of a junior in HS. I’m glad that the Nats are getting more active in the international market, as they’re not going to get the top-tier domestic talent drafting late in the first round every year. But everyone has to be realistic with the expectations for these kids. And it’s great that the Nats think so highly of so many in this class to push them on to the GCL.

    Gator pitching dominates and brings home the CWS. Freeman did get two hits last night, though.

    Meanwhile, are the Cubs even going to make the playoffs? They’re a mess, and they’re not being helped by Maddon believing his press clippings and overmanaging. Start a catcher who hasn’t thrown out anyone this year along with a pitcher who can’t hold runners? Genius! Anyway, I’m sure not writing them off, but I spent all last year pointing out that they got the cleanest run you could ever expect from their starters. They’re not this year. The Nats abused Arrieta and hammered the ball against Butler on Monday, with terrible BABIP luck. Bryant and Rizzo are stars, but the rest of the lineup isn’t. If you’d told me in the offseason that the Nats would be hoping that the Cubs would be their first-round opponent in the playoffs, I would have thought you were nuts. As of right now, they look like the team you’d most prefer to face. But it is still June . . . barely.


    28 Jun 17 at 10:00 am

  12. new posted on the arms in the GCL. Will post a summary of CWS tomorrow.

    Todd Boss

    28 Jun 17 at 10:12 am

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