Photo Courtesy of Andy’s phone. This was taken during February trip to Surprise, AZ
By Braught / PNW Sports Fans
I don’t know about you, but I still have a bad taste in my mouth from the 2011 Civil War Series. That season the ducks beat the Beavers in football and played in the BCS championship game, swept them in the Civil War basketball series, and swept the Beavers in the three game conference series in baseball. That is not supposed to happen to the Beavers! They are suppose to dominate the in state rival because as we have all known, and as ESPN declared this weekend, the ducks only have baseball because they are jealous of our success.
The Following is from the ESPN Broadcast of last Friday’s game against Missouri State.
“Oregon will never admit this, but a lot of the reason why Oregon has a program, now that they brought baseball back, was the success Pat Casey has had 45 minutes up the road in Corvallis by winning those back to back national championships.”
Now I don’t expect, nor could I handle, Oregon sweeping the Beavers this year. This is an ideal match up for the Beavers to see if they have made the right adjustments to get on track. The bats came alive for the Beavers while in Springfield, Missouri and the Oregon pitching staff should be a good test to see if that carries over.
Oregon’s rotation has been in flux a little all season long, but I would expect to see Matt Mercer, 2.40 ERA on Thursday and then Kenyon Yovan, 2.59 ERA, and Kolby Sommers, 3.57 ERA on Friday and Saturday. I would consider Mercer the ace of their lineup. His funky delivery yields a solid fastball that can reach 95 and an above-average changeup. He has improved each year at U of O but his command is lacking, 23 BB in 56 IP, so I would like to see the Beavers get deep into the counts with him.
On Sunday, the ducks played 23 innings of doubleheader baseball and Yovan threw 118 pitches in game one. I would not be surprised if he gets pushed to Friday and Somers moves to Thursday. Yovan was an All American closer for the ducks in 2017 but you may remember him as the pitcher that bounced one off Madrigal’s hand, forcing him to miss multiple games last year. Yovan recently moved from the bullpen and just made his fourth start at Washington. He was selected in the 32nd round out of Westview High School but turned it down to go to college and is currently a Top 100 2019 MLB draft prospect. His fastball is in the lows 90s and he has an average to above-average slider. He is much more of strikeout pitcher, 55 in 41IP, than Mercer but has the same command issues, 23 BB in 41 IP. His start in Washington was the first time he has given up a HR in his collegiate career and his longest outing, 7 innings. Not only can Yovan pitch, he can hit and we will probably see him at the plate at some point in the series.
Somers elected to go to college after being drafted in the 38th round by the Mariners in last year’s draft. He is a left-handed pitcher with a 1-5 record and 3.57 ERA. Better command than the other two with 31 strikeouts and only 7 BB in 35 IP, but opponents are batting .294 against him.
The other pitchers to know are Parker Kelly, 4-0 1.72 ERA, and James Acuna, 2-1 4.88 ERA. Parker is by far the best arm out of the bullpen, throwing upper 80’s to low 90’s on his fastball and a solid breaking ball. He has 44 Ks to 9 BBs in 31 IP. The Beavers will see him more than once this weekend would be my guess.
When it comes to team batting average, Oregon State is in the top 15, where as the Ducks are below 200, only above WSU in the Pac-12. And unlike in the past where Oregon may have a low BA but a high on base percentage due to the number of walks and pitches they leaned into, that is not true this year. There OBP again ranked in the 200’s, compared to OSU’s top 15 ranking. They also are not sacrificing at the same rate, with only 17 on the year compared to OSU’s 34 and Top 10 ranking. This is a different Penguin (Horton) style of baseball.
Hitters to know are Kyle Kasser 2B, Jakob Goldfarb RF, and Gabe Matthews 1B. Kasser will lead it off for them and has a .321 Avg and .415 OBP. He is there to set the plate as there is no power to speak of when it comes to him, only 5 doubles and 0 triples or HRs. Jakob, .319/.388/.529 and Gabe, .288/.393/.464 are much more your power guys. Jakob has some athleticism to him to go along with power as seen by his 6 stolen bases and 5 HR. Gabe will strikeout ever third time he’s up to bat though.
Now if you are here, I expect you know the basics about the baseball team and will try not to fill you in with too many stats.
The big news for the Beavers this weekend is the return of their All American, Nick Madrigal. You must put Nick back at second as soon as he and the medical staff give you the greenlight but what do you do with the red-hot Andy Armstrong. Per the Oregon State gameday, Andy has hit safely in 19 of his last 20 games, at .361 Avg and 17 RBIs. I believe there are two options, Andy becomes the DH or if Andy has the arm, you move him to third and Gretler moves to first. Thankfully there is not much of a drop off from 1 – 9 in this lineup because this Oregon staff will be tough.
On the pitching side, it will be the same three, Heimlich, Fehmel, and Gambrell. The only change is that Fehmel could throw Thursday since he only threw 26 pitches when in Springfield, allowing Heimlich to get more rest. If the trio maintains command, I expect them all to have a good series against this Oregon lineup.
With the great weather inbound, Goss Stadium will be the place to be.