By Dalton Ray–
Second-ranked baseball hosts Florida State in the final regular season series of the season. We got with FSView’s beat writer Michael Hudak to discuss the Seminoles.
Question: For people who aren’t aware of this Florida State team, what are some of the strengths and weaknesses?
Answer: The strong-suits and shortcomings of this Florida State baseball team are essentially black-and-white. While the offense has proven formidable down the stretch of conference play, the Seminoles’ entire pitching staff has been inconsistent at best around every corner this season, with the exception of sophomore starter Tyler Holton (7-2, 2.69 ERA) who is the ace of the staff. This team can win games in both dominating and thrilling fashion, but they can also lose games in the worst of ways.
Q: The Noles are under-.500 in conference, but started the season as a top-five team. What has led to the 33-20 record?
A: While the pitching staff is somewhat to blame for a majority of those 20 losses, FSU has run into some bad luck along the way. Arguably their best hitter coming into this season, sophomore Jackson Lueck, was diagnosed with the shingles early on. The ‘Noles recently lost Lueck’s best possible replacement in the batting order, Rhett Aplin, to a season-ending knee injury. Once the team finally started to get healthy for stretches, the pitching gave out and it’s been a recipe for mediocre play.
Q: FSU is 15th in the nation in runs scored. What makes their offense so explosive?
A: Offensively, Florida State began the season streaky, but boy have they found their stride. Before the Wake Forest series last weekend, the Seminoles scored 49 runs over a five-game winning streak. Quincy Nieporte is having a tremendous season, leading the nation in grand-slams. MLB Draft first-rounder, freshman Drew Mendoza, has stepped up his level of play after missing a month this season. May 10, he hit two home runs in one game, one with the bases loaded. FSU may not score as frequently as they would like, but when they do score, they’re more than capable of putting up five or more in one inning against any team.
Q: One of Louisville’s strengths is their bullpen as half their staff has under a .350 ERA. The Seminoles haven’t had the same luck. What are some of their struggles?
A: Specifically, the middle-inning relievers when the ‘Noles have a lead. The likes of Alec Byrd and Jim Voyles have had their strong performances this season, but neither has proven consistent enough to give head coach Mike Martin any reason to trust them with a tight lead (or with no lead at all). Perhaps that’s the reason why, two weeks into the regular season, Martin moved his most experienced starter, Drew Carlton, to the closer role. Carlton’s confidence has appeared to been shaken greatly since that switch and following a few bad outings, so FSU is hard-pressed to keep a lead once they have it. The issue has been there all season, it hasn’t been addressed, and thus the problem has lingered.
Q: Louisville has won three straight Atlantic division regular season titles. Has that taken ACC regulars by surprise?
A: The Cardinals are always a serious threat in the ACC, so I don’t believe it comes as a surprise that they consistently have some of the best regular seasons of any conference team. Head coach Dan McDonnell’s teams never really seems to get off to a slow start, and are able to continue to build on team chemistry continually throughout each season. Regular season titles do mean a lot, but they don’t necessarily correlate to postseason success, as Louisville has yet to win an ACC Championship. Is this year, in Louisville, the year?
Photo by Dalton Ray / The Louisville Cardinal