With added sense of urgency, Miami makes pitching change ahead of Clemson series

The Miami Hurricanes huddle on the pitchers mound during Miami's game against Florida Gulf Coast University on April 14 at Mark Light Field.
The Miami Hurricanes huddle on the pitchers mound during Miami's game against Florida Gulf Coast University on April 14 at Mark Light Field. Photo credit: Alex Carnochan

The Hurricanes may have beaten the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles on a walk-off Wednesday, but this past week has been anything but euphoric for Miami. They are looking for consistency, especially on the pitching mound, allowing 10 runs per game in each of their last three Atlantic Coast Conference matchups.

And with getting swept at Pittsburgh still on the team’s mind, UM (18-11, 10-10 ACC) is making another change to its weekend pitching rotation.

Freshman and starter-to-date Victor Mederos will not start this weekend against the Clemson Tigers at Mark Light Field. Per a UM spokesman, the change is not injury-related, and Mederos will still be available out of the bullpen.

The right-handed hurler out of Westminster Christian has a 6.08 earned run average through eight appearances in 2021, all starts. He earned his first win on April 3 against Duke, but surrendered four earned runs in just two frames on April 10 at Pitt.

The good news for the Canes is that fellow freshman pitcher Alejandro Rosario is set to return to the rotation Friday after two missed starts. He takes a 5.91 ERA into the weekend alongside a 3-2 record. The March 15 ACC Pitcher of the Week was held out against Duke due to an oblique strain and missed his April 9 start at Pitt with an illness. In an April 11 relief outing of one and 2/3 innings, Rosario gave up seven earned runs and six hits.

Jordan Dubberly (1-0, 4.78 ERA) and Jake Garland (4-1 4.75 ERA) will start Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Both pitchers went three and 2/3 frames in losses at Pittsburgh.

Offensively, the Canes will hope for third baseman Yohandy Morales’ return Friday. He was held out of Wednesday’s 3-2 win after tweaking his back while weightlifting this week. Head coach Gino DiMare lists Morales as “day-to-day.”

Miami will look to avoid leaving runs off the board after stranding nine baserunners against Florida Gulf Coast Wednesday and 23 total in the three losses at Pitt.

“It’s one hit,” DiMare said. “One hit changes everything. It’s amazing how in baseball if you get that one hit, it kind of relaxes guys. We have to get our hitters going. There’s no doubt there’s a little bit of a funk there. We were going pretty good there for a little bit and then we went to Pitt and I’m not sure what happened. But we didn’t make an adjustment. We have to relax and execute.”

Christian Del Castillo leads the Canes with a .364 batting average and is 8-16 in Miami’s last four contests. Gabe Rivera is hitting .314 while Adrian Del Castillo’s is at .312. Raymond Gil hit two home runs in last Friday’s matchup at Pitt, Dominic Pitelli added a homer Sunday and Alex Toral also had a home run in UM’s midweek battle against FGCU.

Behind enemy lines

Clemson is 15-14 overall and 9-9 in conference play. They have won eight of their last 12 ACC matchups after a 1-6 start in league play. The Tigers are, however, on a three-game slide, having dropped the last two games in a series against the Virginia Cavaliers last weekend before suffering a loss Tuesday to College of Charleston.

Redshirt freshman right-handed pitcher Mack Anglin will start Friday night’s 7 p.m. game for Clemson. He is still a relative newcomer to the Tigers’ rotation, entering just his third start of 2021. He does boast a 2.18 ERA after a six-inning, one-hit scoreless outing April 9.

Redshirt sophomore and left-hander Keyshawn Askew will take the mound Saturday at 6 p.m. He joined the rotation in March after recovering from a preseason leg injury and has a 2.84 ERA over five appearances and four starts. He has an impressive 29-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Askew allowed seven hits and four runs in a five and 2/3-frame start against Virginia on April 10.

Redshirt freshman Nick Hoffman is scheduled to start Sunday’s noon series finale. Like Anglin and Askew, Hoffman hasn’t been a weekend starter for long, with three 2021 starts under his belt. The righty with a 4.85 ERA allowed seven Virginia hits and three runs April 11 in four and 1/3 innings. But Hoffman is just three weeks removed from a complete game win in his first start at Boston College on March 27.

The Tigers aren’t a team either that lives and dies by its starters. Clemson’s bullpen comes into the series with a 3.42 ERA and a .237 opposing batting average.

Shortstop James Parker leads Clemson in batting average at .353. First baseman Caden Grice follows closely at .340 and a team-high 1.087 OPS. Both players have seven home runs each, tied for a team-best. Among qualifying players, there is a drop off to the Tigers’ next-best offensive threats, with Bryar Hawkins batting .279, Jonathan French hitting .258, Kier Meredith sitting at .255 and Bryce Teodosio at .253.

Friday and Sunday’s games will be available on ACC Network, while Saturday’s matchup can be seen on ACC Network Extra. All three contests will also be heard on WVUM.

After the series, Miami welcomes back FGCU in Coral Gables on April 21 before traveling to North Carolina for a three-game set from April 23-25.