Starting Pitching Advantage: Miami
Two of the projected weekend starters for Maryland, sophomore Sander Beck and junior Eric Potter have gotten annihilated this year. Beck, who leads the Terps in games started, has not even recorded a single win; he’s 0-7 with a 7.84 ERA. Both Beck and Potter have opponent batting averages well over .300. Junior Brett Harman is the only decent starting option for Maryland. Miami wins this category easily as we’re all well aware of what Chris Hernandez, Eric Erickson and Jason Santana are capable of, although Jim Morris would like to see Hernandez go deeper into games than a 4th inning exit like in his last start at FSU. He expects more out of his team’s strikeout leader.
Bullpen Advantage: Even
The Hurricanes indubitably have more talent in the pen than the Terrapins, but the Miami bullpen has really struggled as of late as they blew up in the last weekend series. In the two losses to the Seminoles, the Canes gave up a combined 8 runs in innings 8 and 9 of the two games. That means the team ERA in the last two innings of the losses was a dismal 18.00. Daniel Miranda, who started off hot with his promotion as the club’s closer apparently lost that closing gig after both blowing the save and losing last Saturday’s match. Morris is shuffling with his relievers to find a consistent closer. Most recently, Iden Nazario earned a 3-run save against St. Thomas. It’ll be interesting to see if he comes back out with him in this series. As far as Maryland is concerned, no Terrapin reliever has an ERA under 4.50. Their closer, senior Dan Gentzler, however, has recorded 7 saves, which is worth noting since Maryland doesn’t win many games meaning minimal save opportunities.
Catcher Advantage: Miami
Nothing different this week. Yasmani Grandal just continues to play better and better. In the series against Florida State he reached base on 10 of 14 plate appearances while slugging 1.125 during the three-game set. On the year now he’s hitting .428 with an OPS of 1.301. The man behind the plate for Maryland will be redshirt freshman Jack Cleary. He appears to be a solid young catcher with a .293 average that ranks second on the team among players with at least 14 at bats. However, he has not shown even a hint of power in that bat as his 7 doubles are his only 7 extra-base hits, and he’s also committed 10 errors on the year.
Infield Advantage: Miami
Harold Martinez, excluding what he’s done on the defensive end, has been stellar for the Canes. His most recent homer was his team-leading 14th and he ranks second on the team (behind Grandal of course) with his 42 RBI. The right side of the Cane infield has just been altogether solid on defense as well as offense, usually with Frankie Ratcliff hitting second and Scott Lawson hitting third in the lineup. Slick-fielding freshman shortstop Stephen Perez has great speed as he’s been successful in 14 of his 16 stolen base attempts, and while his batting average hasn’t been spectacular, he finds other ways to contribute and get on base. One infielder to keep an eye on for Maryland is their speedy sophomore shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez out of Oak Hill, VA who has accumulated 23 stolen bases on the season.
Outfield Advantage: Even
Maryland’s best player comes in the form of redshirt sophomore and West Virginia University transfer Brandon Padula. He’s hitting .363 with 4 home runs and a team-leading 30 RBI. The run production numbers would be higher if he was surrounded by more talent with guys getting on base more often in front of him and protecting his bat behind him. For Miami, it appears that Chris Pelaez broke out of his slump over the weekend in Tallahassee. He and Nathan Melendres both contributed as he went 6-for-14 with three runs scored and driven in while Melendres went 5-for-11 with 4 RBI and 2 runs scored.
Intangibles Advantage: Miami
The Canes would really like to sweep Maryland for these three games in the middle of the 7-game homestand. Miami (31-11, 15-6) is just a flat-out better team overall. It’d be nice for them to get some confidence back after blowing some late leads in their last two ACC games.
David Furones may be contacted at email@example.com.