This article was written for Canespace by blogger Mephistopheles
This is the match-up U have all been waiting for: The Miami Hurricanes vs The Florida Gators.
And as far as I am concerned it is not a bad match-up for Miami, although with UM pitching Ace Eric Erickson out with an injury, you probably have to give UF the slight edge.
Both teams are similar offensively. Both are hitting around .300, with similar SO/BB ratio. The Canes have a much better slugging %, but to be fair The Light is a little more hitter friendly than The Mack.
The home field advantage and rowdy crowd on hand will likely be a big factor as well with heated rivals UM and UF facing each other. In fact, UM has three of the top five three-game series crowds (2005, '07 and '09) ever at The Mack:
|Top Three Game Series|
The Hurricanes' pitchers have a better ERA, lower opponent's batting average against and strike out more opponents. Florida does not walk many batters. However, Erickson is a big part of our pitching #'s and he's not there due to a recurring sore elbow that he had surgery on last season.
Both teams have faced as tough a schedule as anyone in the country. On paper, the Canes are a better baseball team. The Gators have been more consistent, and have a few match-up advantages:
- Chapman. He's a true closer and the G's are 43-0 when leading after 7. Miranda is capable of getting the job done, but clear edge here for UF.
- No key injuries and home field advantage.
- UM has a clear power edge, but unless the wind blows out this is not an easy park to hit HR's.
- Two of UF's top three starters and Chapman are lefties; this can slow down the running game and turns the switch hitters to the right side taking away the right field fence which is the best chance for HR's. UM will need to get to the Gators bullpen to be successful.
ON THE OTHER HAND...Miami is the underdog, and the favorites have struggled in the tourney this year. Again, I do think Miami is the better team.
UM has been susceptible to the big inning this year. That may be a sign of youth. UM Catcher and ACC Player of the Year Yasmani Grandal will have to be a more vocal leader in the field to gather the troups if or when things start going sideways. Avoid those lapses, and the Hurricanes can play with anyone.
It's hard for me to convince myself that Miami will get to Omaha, but we definitely have a shot. I think UM's best pitcher Chris Hernandez goes Saturday on short rest. Miami Head Coach Jim Morris can't risk saving him for Sunday. Whaley may not be ready for Friday. That leaves us with Santana or Gutierrez, (or both) to get us through game 1.
Game 1 is huge because Hernandez is in a nice groove and in my opinion he's the best starting pitcher for either team this weekend. I like Whaley but its a lot to ask for a freshman to win the deciding game, especially with our erratic bullpen.
If we steal game 1, we've got a great chance to sweep.
But we really need game 1.