Nationals Arm Race

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

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The race for the 2018 #1 Draft Pick

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SF is in the lead to have first crack at top prep SS Brian Turang. Photo via baseball America

SF is in the lead to have first crack at top prep SS Brice Turang. Photo via baseball America

About this time, I like to look at the bottom of the standings to see who’s going to have the first crack at talent in next year’s Rule-4 amateur draft.

With two weeks left (roughly 13-15 games), here’s how things stand.  There seem to be 4 contenders for the title (records as of saturday morning 9/16/17).

  1. San Francisco, 57-92.  what a season for the Giants, going from presumed contenders to currently owning the worst record in the majors.  They’ve lost 15 of their last 20 and might not be catchable for the #1 pick.  Pretty impressive for the team with the 5th highest opening day payroll.
  2. Philadelphia: 57-90: we knew they’d be bad and so did they … but they’ve played .500 ball for the last month to take themselves out of the running for their 2nd straight #1 overall pick.  They seem likely to end up 3rd or 4th.
  3. Chicago White Sox: 59-88: another team that clearly waived the white flag this past off-season, but which stocked up so heavily on top-end prospects that their possible end of 2018 rotation (Carlos Rodon, Reynaldo Lopez, Lucas Giolito, Carson Fulmer and Michael Kopech is a murder’s row of 1st round/highly rated prospects.  They could return to glory and fast, especially with another year of top draft picks.  They’ve rebounded as of late though and are playing themselves out of the running for #1 overall.
  4. Detroit: 61-86: keep an eye on the Tigers though, who have won just 8 of their last 30 and have (finally) admitted to themselves they need to sell, moving face of the franchise Justin Verlander and probably selling off everything they can this coming off-season.  Detroit by the way had the 2nd hghest payroll on opeing day only behind the Dodgers.  Now that’s hard to do.
  5. New York Mets: 63-84: they’re 6 games out of the “lead” but are in free fall, losing 20 of their last 30 and being led to the finish line by a manager that should be canned for incompetence this off-season.

Next few teams: As, Reds and Padres, all of whom are playing .500 ball right now and seem unlikely to get into the top 5.

End of year prediction: SF, Detroit, Mets, Philly, White Sox.

So who’s in the “race” for #1 overall next summer?  Its really early, and these rankings drastically change with spring performances, but here’s some of the top names to keep in mind:

College:

  • Brady Singer RHP, Florida. Dominant in 2016 CWS. 2017 USA Nat’l team.
  • Casey Mize RHP, Auburn. 2017 USA Nat’l team star.
  • Nick Madrigal 2B, Oregon State: Golden spikes semi-finalist 2017 as sophomore. All-american as Soph. 2017 USA Nat’l team.
  • Seth Beer 1B/DH Clemson: monster freshman year in 2016: Dick Howser award, Golden spikes finalist. 2017 USA Nat’l team.
  • Griffin Conine OF, Duke. Jeff Conine‘s son. Exploded in Cape Cod League 2017, All-Cape 2017, named top prospect
  • Jeremey Eierman SS, Missouri State; All-American 1st/2nd team 2017 as sophomore. 2017 USA Nat’l team invitee.

High School

  • Kumar Rocker RHP, North Oconee (GA) (Vanderbilt commit). 18U team.
  • Brice Turang SS, Santiago (CA) (LSU commit). 18U team.
  • Ethan Hankins RHP, Forsyth Central (GA): (Vanderbilt commit). 18U team.
  • Jared Kelenic OF, Waukesha (WI) (Louisville commit). 18U team.

If the draft was tomorrow, it’d probaby go Turang, Singer, Rocker at the top.

2017 CWS Finals: Florida finally Wins!

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Florida Gators; your deserving 2017 CWS champs. Photo via Alligator Army

Florida Gators; your deserving 2017 CWS champs. Photo via Alligator Army

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


Here’s how the finals played out.

For Reference: LSU stats and Florida Stats:

Here’s how I thought the pitching matchups would go; turns out LSU pushed both Poche and Lange to go with a “bullpen” game 1, starting a guy in Russell Reynolds who had a 8.50 ERA on the season in a gambit to get the pitching matchup advantages (and to get both Poche and Lange with more rest) for games 2 and 3.  Risky; if Poche gets beat in game two then you lose the CWS finals with your ace on the bench.  Meanwhile, Florida changed things up too, going with middle reliever Tyler Dyson in game 2 instead of Kower on short rest.

  • Game 1:  Monday 6/26/17:  LSU middle reliever Russell Reynolds/bullpen vs Florida’s #2 starter Brady Singer (8-5, 3.18 ERA) on 5 days rest.
  • Game 2: Tuesday 6/27/17:  LSU’s #2 Starter Jared Poche (12-3, 3.33 ERA on the season) with 5 days rest vs Tyler Dyson (4-0 with a 3.23 ERA) with plenty of rest since he only has 2 starts on the year.
  • Game 3 (if necessary): Wednesday 6/28/17: LSU’s #1 Starter Alex Lange (10-5, 2.97 ERA) with 4 days rest vs Florida’s #3 starter Jackson Kower (12-1, 4.15 ERA) on 4 days rest/#1 Alex Faedo (9-2, 2.26 ERA)  on 3 days rest.

Results:

  • In Game 1, Singer bent but did not break, giving up 3 runs in 7 IP and striking out a CWS record 12 guys before handing off to Florida’s all-american closer Michael Byrne for a 2-inning save to close out game 1 win 4-3.  LSU’s Reynolds gave up 3 runs in 3 1/3 innings before handing off to middle reliever Nick Bush for the middle third and then deposed closer Hunter Newman for the final 2 and 1/3, and Bush/Newman kept it close but LSU just couldn’t score late to tie it.  As mentioned above, an interesting gambit by LSU’s coaching staff going with a bullpen game against Florida’s best remaining arm.  Lets see if Poche and Lange can pull it off in games 2 and three.
  • In Game 2, Florida rolled the dice by starting Dyson, who gave them a fantastic 6ip 3hit, 1run outing while Florida put a couple of runs on Poche.  LSU thought they had the game tied in the 7th when they scored a run on a double play ball, but an ill-advised slide caused the runner to be returned to third and LSU couldn’t capitalize the rest of the night.  LSU’s closer Hess finally ran out of gas, giving up 4 runs in the 8th inning to put the game out of reach.  Meanwhile, Florida’s coach tempted fate by bringing in his game 3 starter Kower to relieve his closer, a move that paid off as Kower shut down LSU to finish off the game and the win 6-1.

Your 2017 College World Series ChampionFlorida

Commentary: I think the right team won, and the team I predicted would win ended up winning … but neither Lange nor Faedo pitched in the final series.  Why not put a day or two in there so that the pitching can work its way out and we could get a for-real three game series between these teams?  That was the only downside of this final.  Florida’s long storied baseball program finally gets a national title.


This concludes the College Baseball season and our coverage of it for 2017.  I’ll post one more post that covers draftees and signing status for all local-connected players (prep and college).  I don’t really cover the summer collegiate wood bat leagues: for that I’d suggest NovaBaseball.com, which is really coming into its own in terms of local coverage for all players with local ties.


2017 College CWS tournament references

Written by Todd Boss

June 29th, 2017 at 9:21 am

2017 CWS Group Winners and CWS Final preview

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CWS-2017_calendar-narrow

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