With first pitch scheduled for 7pm Friday between Michigan and Kentucky, A Sea of Blue (SB Nation's outstanding Kentucky blog and home of more basketball coverage than I can possibly dream of) and I got together to do a question and answer on each other's baseball teams. After reading ASOB's responses and looking over my own answers to his questions one thing is clear, these are two powerful lineups. Both pitching staffs are going to have their hands full. You can see my responses on A Sea of Blue shortly, but for now, here are their insights into the Cats' starting nine!
Baseball Q & A with Kentucky's Own A Sea of Blue!
1. It's impossible not to know about Sawyer Carroll, his gaudy average (.417), ridiculous RBI total (72), and his extra last name masquerading as his first. Anyone hitting like that has got to have support. Who are the guys hitting before and after him? Are they actually providing protection to Carroll or are they by-products of an outstanding player?
A little bit of both. Wiley and Wilkes, Cowgill or Rose, who have mostly batted ahead of Carroll in the lineup have terrific on-base percentages -- .396, .444, .487 and .385 respectively. But Carroll is just a great hitter. He leads the SEC in average, is second in slugging percentage, third in on-base percentage, second in runs scored, 3rd in doubles and second in total bases.
A lot of
2. How big a deal is Baseball at
To be honest,
When we got John Cohen, who's previous post was hitting coach at the storied
In terms of baseball,
3. A perusal of the Cat's stat sheet indicates there are two main starters Chris Rusin and Greg Dombrowski. Are these your main guys or does James Paxton figure in there anywhere? What kind of pitchers are we looking at between Rusin and Dombrowski? Of the two of them, who's better?
Dombrowski is a solid right-hander who throws a lot of breaking stuff, particularly a sinker. Usually has very good control, and although he was effective this year, I don't think he lived up to pre-season hopes. He was dinged up last year, but is healthy now.
Rusin is a lefty, and loves the curve ball. He also has the best pickoff move on the team, so if I were the Wolverines, I would think twice about any base burglary with him on the mound. Nagging injuries have hampered his effectiveness this season.
Paxton is a lefty that has mostly split time with Scott Green, a right-hander, as our other starter. Paxton likes to throw it hard, but he suffers from control problems. You never know what you will get with him. I don't expect to see him start against
Green has been touted as a pro prospect at 6'8", 245# with a rocket fastball, but he simply has not delivered on that promise this year. His fastball is a bit flat with little movement, and fastball hitters have really gotten to him this year. Green did have Tommy John surgery in 2006, so perhaps he still hasn't fully recovered from that.
As to who is better, I would say definitely Chris Rusin. Rusin is really the only honest-to-God starter that we have who has any chance at all to finish a game. If you look at the innings pitched stats, you'll see that
Pitching is definitely a big part of the reason we are not hosting a regional this year. Rusin has fought injuries all year and Green has lost his mojo. Dombrowski is solid but a bit disappointing this year.
4. Who's the unsung hero this year for
I'm thinking Ryan Wilkes. Wilkes was batting 5th for most of the year, but has recently moved up into the 2 spot. He has an unblemished fielding mark, error-free in 53 starts, which is always impressive from second base. Ryan is also one of the great bunters in the SEC, and averages .410 with bases empty. The senior is first team All-SEC and a great leader for
I figure Rusin gets the start. He is rested and hopefully healthy. The only problem with that is,
6. Finally, give us a prediction!
8-6 Wildcats. I think the 'Cats have just a bit too much hitting for the Wolverines, and if Rusin is actually healthy and gets the start, he is due for a big game.
We're looking forward to a great game with the Wolverines.