May 30, 2014

Say Hello to the Charlottesville Regional!

I should have put this out on Monday afternoon, but here it is on Friday morning!

Hoofans are hoping to see a similar dogpile this weekend.

No rhyme or reason to this, just spewing it out in a stream of consciousness style.  Written vomit.

Okay, everyone needs a printable bracket!

Or if you're a super nerd (like me), a 16-page printable Regional schedule for this weekend!

Virginia got a national seed, #3.  That means, in basketball parlance (for those of you new to this whole college baseball thing), we got a 1-seed.  It also means we're hosting this weekend's Regional, and if we win it, we're guaranteed to host next weekend's Super Regional.

If we advance to next weekend, we'll play the winner of the Columbia (SC) Regional, one of South Carolina, Maryland, Old Dominion, or Campbell.  South Carolina, I think, is the obvious and overwhelming favorite to advance from that Regional.

Anyway, back to Charlottesville.  We're hosting 2-seed Arkansas, 3-seed Liberty, and 4-seed Bucknell.  Below are some good-to-great quick overviews of each of those teams, courtesy of Streaking the Lawn.

Those are short and awesome, so if you don't read them, you're just being lazy.  HOWEVER, I can understand lazy, so hre are some Cliff's Notes...

Bucknell -- A pitching-reliant team whose best offensive threat is now out for the season with an injury.  The Bison pitchers are very solid in terms of ERA and WHIP, and they don't walk batters.  However, they also don't strike batters out.  The offense isn't good, and the pitching - while quite competent - shouldn't scare Virginia fans.

Liberty -- We crushed this team 8-2 on May 7th.  They are another pitching-reliant team, with a staff ERA of 2.62, which ranks them 14th among the 64 teams in the NCAA Tournament.  They average 5.6 runs scored, best in the CVille Regional.  Their RPI is #30, which is really high for a 3-seed. The Flames are led by Big South Player of the Year Ryan Seiz. The senior (and Louisville transfer) hit .362 this season, while blasting 12 home runs.  Liberty is a dangerous team, and a potentially scary draw for the Hoos later in the weekend.  We don't want to lose this Regional on our home field to the Liberty Freaking Flames.

Arkansas -- The Razorbacks knocked us out of the College World Series in 2009, so we have some history with this program.  Arkansas is yet another pitching-reliant team in the CVille Regional; they rank 4th nationally with a .216 batting average against and are allowing only 6.9 hits per game with a team ERA of 2.63 (15th best in the country) and 1.12 WHIP (8th best in the country).  The Hogs are SEC-tough, but they hit about like Virginia has this season... which is to say, plenty of hits, but a low batting average and slugging percentage (and bad cluster luck*) leading to mediocre runs-scored numbers.  Junior infielder Brian Anderson is probably the most dangerous hitter in the Regional who won't have the word "Virginia" stitched across the front of his jersey.

*"Cluster luck, what the fuck is that?"

Glad you asked.  HERE's the concept.  But if you're too lazy to click (again, I get it), here's a synopsis ripped directly from the article:
Joe Peta, a former Wall Street trader, presented cluster luck in his book, Trading Bases. Essentially, the concept boils down to this: When a team’s batters cluster hits together to score more runs and a team’s pitchers spread hits apart to allow fewer runs, that’s cluster luck. Say a team tallies nine singles in one game. If all of those singles occur in the same inning, the team would likely score seven runs; if each single occurs in a different inning, however, it’d likely mean a shutout.... ....The Power Rank calculates cluster luck by using the Base Runs formula

Apply this to 2014 Virginia baseball, and we find that that the Hoos have created what should be 417 runs, and given up what should be 143 runs.  The actual numbers?  We've only scored 308, and given up 155. This means we've been incredibly unlucky, and should have scored 109 more runs, while giving up 12 fewer.  (Big-time propers to Wahoos247 poster 'justmisseduva' for running the numbers.)

I extrapolate from all of this that we've had really bad cluster luck this season, which helps account for the spotty offense generated by what should have been Virginia's best-ever lineup.  Can we expect an offensive explosion this weekend?  A simple return to mean by the cluster luck would suggest YES!

The bad news is that Arkansas is in exactly the same boat.

C'mon Fish, we need you to knock our cluster luck straight this weekend.

Anyway, here's the full and complete schedule for this weekend...


Game 1 -- 2:00 PM, Virginia vs. Bucknell (ESPN3)

Game 2 -- 7:00 PM, Arkansas vs. Liberty (ESPNU)


Game 3 -- 2:00 PM, Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, LOSER ELIMINATED

Game 4 -- 8:00 PM, Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2


Game 5 -- 2:00 PM, Winner Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4, LOSER ELIMINATED

Game 6 -- 8:00 PM, Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 5, if Winner Game 4 wins then they win the Regional and Winner Game 5 is ELIMINATED


Game 7 (if necessary) -- 7:00 PM, Winner Game 6 vs. Loser Game 6, LOSER ELIMINATED

Obviously, we want to win today and make it to the so-called "winner's bracket."  Then tomorrow (Saturday), we want/need to beat the Arkansas/Liberty winner in order to coast to Sunday with most of our bullpen arms still available.

Our rotation for this weekend figures to be.....

Today vs. Bucknell -- Artie Lewicki takes the mound. I like this move, but I don't love it.  I like it, because Artie is a senior battler with more than enough skill and chutzpah to face Bucknell and shut them the fuck down.  I don't love it, because the last time we saw Artie, he was getting shelled by Maryland in Greensboro.  A strong 7+-inning start from Artie today keeps our bullpen fresh and sets us up for success all weekend.

Virginia's Second Game -- Regardless of whether it's the elimination game at 2:00 or the "winner's bracket" game at 8:00, I assume we'll be pitching our ace, Nathan Kirby.  Kirbs has had a GREAT season, despite a few rough patches (including the first couple of innings against FSU in Greensboro).  He wasn't ACC Pitcher of the Year for no reason, and you have to have major, major, major confidence in Kirbs this weekend.

Ace in your face.

Virginia's Third Game -- It's Bulldog Brandon Waddell.  2013's Friday starter turned into 2014's stalwart Sunday starter, and another guy deserving of quite a bit of faith and confidence from Hoofans.

Virginia's Fourth Game (if necessary) -- Here's where it gets a little bit dicey.  Josh Sborz started 12 games this season, so I assume he'll be near the front of the list... but he'll also likely be seen out of the bullpen prior to our fourth game.  Alec Bettinger has seen six starts and boasts a zesty 1.26 ERA, so he might be the best bet for the weekend's 4th start.

Monday -- if we take the long road to try to win this Regional, prepare to see Johnny Wholestaff take the mound on Monday night, God forbid.

I'd talk about the batting, but it's all cluster luck from here.  We've got guys who can hit, up and down our lineup.  They just have to step up there and make it happen.  Let's just hope our cluster luck doesn't stay a giant clusterfuck.

My predictions for the weekend:
-- Virginia crushes Bucknell, 9-3
-- Arkansas over Liberty, 5-3
-- Liberty over Bucknell, 6-2
-- Virginia squeaks past Arkansas, 3-2
-- Arkansas over Liberty, 7-4
-- Virginia squeaks past Arkansas again on Sunday, 5-2, to win the Regional
-- Charlottesville Regional MVP: Nick Howard, 2 saves, 0.00 ERA, 5 Ks

And here's the abrupt ending to the post.


1 comment:

  1. Late to the game but this was a great preview. Kirby was sick last night.