Nationals Arm Race

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2017 CWS Group Winners and CWS Final preview

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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

2017 CWS Super-Regionals recap, CWS field and predictions

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CWS-2017_calendar-narrow

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


Lost in Draft 2017 mania was the finishing of the Super Regionals on Monday evening.  This post is a couple days old but just in time for the CWS to start.

Super Regional Recaps:  I’ve got these ordered by they way they’ll be playing into the CWS field (i.e. by bracket).  And this is the order they’re listed on d1baseball’s Tourney Central, the quickest way to find results.  Rain throughout southeast cancelled half the friday slate of games.

  • #1 Oregon State vs Vanderbilt: Oregon State’s #1 starter Luke Heinrich left the team after some past indiscretions were uncovered by the local paper (you can google the details yourself; the timing of the unveiling couldn’t have come at a worse time for him, his team or his future just days ahead of the draft,  however reprehensible his transgressions were).  Behind #2 starter Jake Thompson they rolled over Vanderbilt nonetheless 8-4 in game one.   They continued the onslaught, destroying one of the best SEC teams 9-2 to go two and out; Oregon State advances to the CWS even without its ace.
  • Cal State Fullerton vs #9 Long Beach State: LBSU blanked CS-F in the first game 3-0, taking the 6th game out of the 7 times they’ve now played this season.  Fullterton came roaring back and destroyed the Dirtbags 12-0 to force the decider.  In a shocker to me, Cal-State Fullerton got a dominant pitching performance from a mid-week starter and won the clincher 2-1 to advance.
  • Sam Houston State v #12 Florida State: FSU rallied to beat Sam Houston in the first game 7-6.  Sam Houston was in control before FSU scored 3 in the 6th to tie it, eventually getting the walk-off in the bottom of the 9th.  In game 2, Florida State scored in each of the first six innings to turn it into a laugher 19-0 and advance to their 22nd CWS.
  • #4 LSU vs Mississippi State: LSU scored 4 in the 8th to rally past Mississippi State in the first.  LSU’s ace Alex Lange was a bit wild; he got relieved by Virginia product Zach Hess, who got the Win.  In Game 2, LSU turned a close game into a laugher as Mississippi State seemed to run out of arms, eventually winning 14-4 to advanced to the CWS.

 

  • Davidson vs TAMU: Texas A&M beat the cinderella story Davidson 7-6 in the first game … in 15 innings (!).  One worry you always have seeing these collegiate long extra inning games is pitcher abuse; TAMU did seem to select a periodic starter to eat up the extra innings, so that’s good to see.  In Game 2, Davidson was ahead into the 8th … and then their lack of pitching depth finally got exposed.  TAMU exploded for 10 runs in the 8th and 9th to blow them away 12-6 and be the second team to punch their ticket to the CWS.
  • #7 Louisville v #10 Kentucky; Lousiville took game one behind their #2 starter, with super star  Brendan McKay going 0-3 at the plate.  McKay got the win in game two to punch Louisville’s ticket to the CWS, the first team to do so.  (Louisville had clinched the super regional before the LSU regional had played an inning thanks to weather).
  • #6 TCU v Missouri State: TCU won a close one 3-2 behind ace Jared Janczak; they scored 2 in the 8th to go ahead.  TCU cruised in game 2 8-1 to advance to their 4th straight CWS.
  • #3 Florida  vs #14 Wake Forest: Florida won game 1 in 11 innings; they threw ace Alex Faedo but he was on 72 pitches through 4 and got pulled.  Wake’s ace Parker Dunshee threw a fantastic game; 8ip, 3hits but Florida won on a walk-off.  Game two was suspended sunday night due to rain; the last regional to finish.  Wake Forest took the suspended game to force the decider, which unfortunately was being played just as the MLB draft started monday night.  There, Florida held serve and advanced 3-0 to finish out the field.

 

My CWS Predictions: Oregon State, TAMU, Florida, LSU, Florida State, TCU, Louisville, Long Beach State.

Actuals: Oregon State, TAMU, Florida, LSU, Florida State, TCU, Louisville, Cal-State Fullerton

I got 7 of 8 right, missing on the Fullerton pick (figuring that Long Beach State would continue to dominate them).


 

CWS Field and Profiles

Top Bracket:

  • #1 Oregon State: 54-4 overall record (27-3 in conference).  1st place Pac12,   Regular season conference champ (no post-season Pac12 tourney)
  • Cal State Fullerton: 39-22 (15-9).  3rd place Big West regular season (no Big West tourney)
  • #12 Florida State 45-21 (14-14): 5th place, Atlantic division ACC regular season.  1st place ACC tournament.
  • #4 LSU: 48-17 (21-9): 1st place, SEC West conference.  SEC tourney champs.

Bottom Bracket

  • Texas A&M: 41-21 (16-14): 5th place SEC West.
  • #7 Louisville: 52-10 (23-6): 1st Place Atlantic division ACC regular season.
  • #6 TCU: 47-16 (16-8): 1st place Big 12.  Lost in Big12 tourney title game.
  • #3 Florida: 46-19 (21-9): 1st Place SEC East regular season.

CWS field review by the numbers

  • Pac12: 1 team
  • Big West: 1 team
  • ACC: 2 teams
  • Big12: 1 team
  • SEC: 3 teams

 


CWS Field thoughts

What a great CWS field.  Several legendary programs (Cal-State Fullerton, Florida State and Florida) with dozens of appearances between them.  The undisputed #1 team in the land (Oregon State).  The undisputed #1 pre-season team in TCU.  Arguably the hottest team in the land in LSU.  The team with the likely #1 overall pick (Louisville).  Great spread amongst the power conference; you have 1st place teams from both SEC divisions, the ACC, the Pac12 and the Big12.  Every team in Omaha this year has been there already this decade, making it a very experienced field.  Should make for great baseball.

Quick predictions: LSU from the top; I’ve always been slightly biased against Pac12 teams and when the #1 team from the west meets the #1 team from the powerhouse SEC conference, something tells me the Tigers will prevail.   TCU from the bottom, though its tough to pick against Louisville.  I think TCU gets a break not having to face Brendan McKay in game one and that might be the difference.

Final: TCU takes the title over LSU and fulfils their #1 pre-season ranking.

Player Star power in this CWS: By team, here’s the guys to look for either for Nats interest or for overall talent/draft position:

  • Oregon State: two dominant starters in Luke Heimlich (possibly not playing) and Jake Thompson.  Also Drew Rasmussen, drafted ahead of either guy.  Max Engelbrekt has the best ERA on the team and was the Nats 40th round pick as a 5th-year senior.
  • TAMU; RHP Corbin Martin
  • Florida: Alex Faedo.
  • LSU Alex Lange their #1 starter plus their clean-up hitter Greg Deichmann, both first day draft picks.  Nats 2017 4th rounder Cole Freeman is their engine.
  • Florida State; none really, despite FSU’s ranking.  They’re a solid and younger team this year with no major 2017 draft prospects.
  • TCU’s Evan Skoug might get drafted relatively highly.
  • Louisville:  led by #4 overall pick Brendan McKay.
  • Cal State Fullerton; no 1st round notables; same as FSU: team depth, not superstars this year.

Nats 2017 Draftees in the CWS: thanks to the Nats strategy of drafting only College players, they drafted a ton of guys who are playing in Omaha.  By team:

  • Oregon State: Max Engelbrekt has the best ERA on the team and was the Nats 40th round pick as a 5th-year senior.  Not sure why he lasted til the 40th round…
  • TAMU: 5th rounder Jr RHP Brigham Hill, 18th rounder OF Nick Choruby.
  • Florida: none
  • LSU  Nats 2017 4th rounder 2B Cole Freeman is their engine.
  • Florida State: none
  • TCU: none this year, last year’s pick Evan Skoug got picked.
  • Louisville: none
  • Cal State Fullerton: 24th rounder sr. SS Tim Richards

 

College CWS tournament references: