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Opponent Preview: Clemson

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Meet the Tigers... They’ve had a rougher than expected season

Ryan Riley #42...

Who’s the Pack playing?

Opponent: Clemson

Mascot: Tweaked-out Tigers | School Location: Clemson, SC | Conference: ACC

2019 Record: 29-20 (12-12, T-4th Atlantic) | 2018 RPI Rank: 48

2018 Record: 47-16 (22-8*, 1st Atlantic) | 2018 RPI Rank: 13

2017 Record: 42-21 (17-13, 3rd Atlantic) | 2017 RPI Rank: 15

*2018 ACC Regular Season Co-Champions


When? Where? How do I watch?

Location: Doak Field at Dail Park (Raleigh, NC)

Game Time(s): Friday, May 10 @ 6:30pm; Saturday, May 11 @ 6:30pm; Sunday, May 12 @ 1:00pm

TV: ACC Network Extra (Friday | Saturday | Sunday)

Radio: WKNC 88.1 in Raleigh, GoPack All-Access

Live Stats: Sidearm Stats


Tell me about this team

First, let’s take a look at what was said about Clemson from our 2019 Season Preview:

Clemson loses a lot of production on offense, but also returns several key members, led by juniors SS Logan Davidson (.292/.408/.544, 18 2B, 15 HR, 10 SB) and C Kyle Wilkie (.324/.422/.440, 10 2B, 5 HR). Davidson is a Top 50 prospect for this year’s MLB Draft. SR 2B Jordan Greene (.250/.398/.404, 6 2B, 5 HR, 8 SB) and RS-SR 2B/3B/DH Grayson Byrd (.243/.309/.439, 9 HR) are also returning starters with a lot of experience. JUCO transfer RS-SO OF Michael Green should contend for playing time. SO OF Kier Meredith (.195/.411/.341, 4 SB over 41 AB) and fellow SO OF Bryce Teodosio (.165/.283/.367, 4 2B, 4 HR over 79 AB) will look for expanded roles now that they are both back to full health. SO INF/OF Sam Hall (.239/.341/.289, 6 2B) is another player who should get increased playing time with so many of last year’s starters no longer in his way. FR C Adam Hackenberg and FR SS James Parker are stuck behind two of the best in the ACC at their respective positions, but they’re guys to keep an eye on in 2020.

SR RHP Brooks Crawford (8-2, 3.24 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, .234 OBA), FR RHP Davis Sharpe, and FR LHP Justin Wrobleski will open the season as the weekend rotation. JR LHP Jacob Hennessy (4-3, 3.91 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, .259 OBA) spent the entire 2018 season in the weekend rotation on a 47-win team, so it’s surprising to see him bumped out of that role. Should one of the freshman starters falter, the Tigers have a proven replacement at the ready. JR RHP Carson Spiers (2-2, 4 SV, 2.08 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, .149 OBA), RS-SO LHP Mat Clark (4-0, 1.69 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, .217 OBA), SO RHP Spencer Strider (5-2, 1 SV, 4.76 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, .215 OBA), RS-SO RHP Travis Marr (6-2, 6.04 ERA, 1.68 WHIP, .307 OBA), and SO RHP Holt Jones (2-0, 4.41 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, .254 OBA) return to the form the heart of the bullpen. SR RHP Luke Sommerfield is a graduate transfer from Saint Louis (1-0, 2 SV, 2.59 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, .213 OBA at SLU); he should be a key contributor to the bullpen. FR RHP Carter Raffield and FR LHP Keyshawn Askew should also earn solid innings in relief for the Tigers.

This will be a Clemson rebuilding year, which means they’ll be a regional host.

2019 Projected Record: 41-15 (21-9)

NCAA Tournament Bound?: Yes

Okay, so Clemson’s not going to hit that record mark or be a regional host this year, but don’t let that fool you; this is a team that is every bit as dangerous as the one they were expected to be. The Tigers swept UNC-CH and took two-of-three from Louisville. They can hit, they can pitch, they’re just... man, I don’t know... they’re just not very lucky. Clemson is just 4-11 in games that were either decided by one-run or went extra innings. If just four of those games go the other way to even things out, we’re talking about a top 25 RPI team that’s in discussion for a regional hosting bid.

Clemson is a team that hits for power (10th nationally in Home Runs, 27th in Doubles), while also having an effective and prevalent element of speed to their game (25th in Stolen Bases). That’s the recipe for an offense that can put immense pressure on an opponent and put up runs in a hurry. On the other hand, Monte Lee’s group isn’t one that’s going to play small ball - they want to play for the big inning - but as we’ve seen this year from NC State, that can also turn into situations where stranded runners become a common theme.

On the mound, the Tigers have two solid weekend starters in Davis Sharpe and Mat Clark, but haven’t been able to figure out a consistent third starter (sounds familiar). The bullpen has four top-end arms (although walks can be an issue for a couple of those guys), plus whichever of the several rotating weekend starter guys are relegated to bullpen duty this series. This is a staff that’s going to be a tough matchup for NC State as they’re not one to issue a lot of free passes. Clemson ranks 35th nationally in WHIP and 49th in K:BB ratio; they also rank 40th in Hits allowed per nine innings.


Who’s on the mound for these guys?

Friday: LHP Mat “One-T” Clark (RS-SO)

Saturday: RHP Davis Sharpe (FR)

Sunday: TBD


Key Players:

Offense

SS Logan Davidson (JR) - .307 BA, .422 OBP, .615 SLG, 192 AB, 16 2B, 2 3B, 13 HR, 46 R, 49 RBI, 37 BB, 47 K, 16-18 SB. Davidson, like NC State’s Will Wilson, will be a first round draft pick for an MLB team just under a month from now. The difference between Wilson and Davidson is in their fallback positions at the pro level. While Wilson would move to (and could be drafted as a) second baseman, Davidson would slide to 3B should he not stick at SS. He’s a bigger dude (6’3, 200 lbs) with loads of power and good wheels, but also strikes out a ton.

1B/LF Grayson Byrd (RS-SR) - .328 BA, .410 OBP, .581 SLG, 198 AB, 13 2B, 2 3B, 11 HR, 39 R, 45 RBI, 22 BB, 39 K, 3-6 SB. Byrd has always been a hitter with some pop in his bat, but not a consistent on-base producer. That’s changed this year. He’s still hitting for power, but he’s cut down on his strikeouts and has put the ball in play more. Currently riding an 11-game hitting streak and coming off a 4-for-4 performance on Wednesday.

1B/DH Bryar Hawkins (FR) - .289 BA, .365 OBP, .467 SLG, 152 AB, 7 2B, 1 3B, 6 HR, 27 R, 20 RBI, 14 BB, 46 K, 1-1 SB. This kid might have the most Clemson name ever. The freshman has a lot of potential, but right now he’s a strikeout machine who can hardly work a walk.

C Kyle Wilkie (JR) - .302 BA, .389 OBP, .420 SLG, 169 AB, 11 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 32 R, 29 RBI, 22 BB, 27 K, 5-7 SB. Wilkie is one of the better catchers in the ACC. Surprisingly doesn’t hit for a ton of power (so chalk him up for two homers in this series - sorry, y’all). Over the last two years, has thrown out 30-of-56 attempted base stealers. Has multiple hits in seven of his last eight games. Despite significantly cutting down on his K% from a year ago, hasn’t quite matched the BA and OBP numbers he put up in 2018.

OF/2B Sam Hall (SO) - .271 BA, .373 OBP, .433 SLG, 203 AB, 12 2B, 0 3B, 7 HR, 54 R, 30 RBI, 30 BB, 47 K, 30-35 SB. Hall is the Tigers’ leadoff hitter and a bit of a Swiss Army Knife defensively, moving between all three outfield positions and second base. The dude flat out has wheels with 9 SB in his last 13 games. Strikes out a decent clip, although he’s only done that four times in the last eight games, so he’s getting better. In a word: dangerous.

2B Jordan Greene (SR) - .252 BA, .326 OBP, .429 SLG, 119 AB, 9 2B, 0 3B, 4 HR, 21 R, 22 RBI, 16 BB, 26 K, 5-6 SB. Greene is listed at 5’8, 160 lbs, but I’d be interested to put him next to the 5’10-listed J.T. Jarrett and see who’s bigger. Has some pop for his smaller stature and a decent eye for the zone (96:110 career BB:K ratio). Currently on an 8-game hitting streak.

3B Justin Hawkins (SR) - .269 BA, .356 OBP, .462 SLG, 52 AB, 1 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 10 R, 14 RBI, 7 BB, 20 K, 1-1 SB. Former JUCO transfer from USC-Sumter where he was a 2nd Team All-American. Didn’t get much playing time until recently, but since April 20th, he’s hitting .333 with 3 HR and a 7:14 BB:K ratio.

Pitching

LHP Mat Clark (RS-SO) - 7-1, 3.31 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, .203 OBA, 20.4 K%, 6.8 BB%, 49.0 IP, 35 H, 20 R, 18 ER, 13 BB, 39 K. Clark started off the year in the bullpen before being tossed into the weekend starting rotation following a brilliant extended relief outing against rival South Carolina. He’s been a big of a light switch on the mound as a starter. Against UNC-CH, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, and Louisville went a combined 26.1 IP, 13 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 5 BB, 17 K, but in his other three starts (Boston College, Florida State, Georgia Tech) went a combined 13.2 IP, 16 H, 13 R, 12 ER, 5 BB, 9 K.

RHP Davis Sharpe (FR) - 6-3, 2.93 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, .197 OBA, 26.0 K%, 9.3 BB%, 67.2 IP, 47 H, 27 R, 22 ER, 26 BB, 73 K. Sharpe was a 34th round draft pick last year (Pirates) out of high school, but likely would have gone in the top few rounds if not for signability concerns. He also is a 1B/DH when he’s not pitching (slashing .272/.387/.376 in 125 AB with 3 HR). Sharpe’s the ace of the staff and a future (if not current) stud for the Tigers. In ACC play has only allowed 34 H in 47.1 IP with 19 BB and 44 K.

RHP Carson Spiers (JR) - 1-4, 10 SV, 3.38 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, .219 OBA, 24.2 K%, 6.5 BB%, 37.1 IP, 30 H, 16 R, 14 ER, 10 BB, 37 K. Spiers has been one of the top Clemson bullpen arms over the last two years, and is - obviously - the closer for this year’s squad. He’ll rarely go more than two innings and it’s not uncommon for him to make multiple appearances in the same series.

RHP Holt Jones (SO) - 2-0, 3 SV, 3.12 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, .169 OBA, 26.5 K%, 12.9 BB%, 34.2 IP, 20 H, 13 R, 12 ER, 19 BB, 39 K. A tall and lanky 6’8 pitcher, as you’d expect of most excessively tall relievers, control can be an issue (19 BB, 6 HBP, 7 WP in 34.2 IP). He has great swing-and-miss stuff, though, and has really only had one bad outing all year.

LHP Sam Weatherly (SO) - 2-0, 0 SV, 2.74 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, .184 OBA, 36.0 K%, 19.0 BB%, 23.0 IP, 14 H, 10 R, 7 ER, 19 BB, 36 K. Weatherly was a 27th round draft pick (Blue Jays) out of high school in 2017. Walks can be an issue, but aren’t quite as prevalent as the overall numbers would lead you to believe. Has a pretty good pickoff move.

RHP Jackson Lindley (FR) - 2-0, 0 SV, 3.20 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, .240 OBA, 12.7 K%, 7.3 BB%, 25.1 IP, 23 H, 12 R, 9 ER, 8 BB, 14 K. Lindley has been more of a mid-week starter (including this past Wednesday), but has made a few weekend relief appearances. He’s not a strikeout pitcher, but is a guy who pounds the zone and gets weak contact.

RHP Owen Griffith (JR) - 1-2, 0 SV, 4.38 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, .211 OBA, 31.5 K%, 14.4 BB%, 24.2 IP, 19 H, 13 R, 12 ER, 16 BB, 35 K. Griffith has seen the most extensive action of his career this season. After a promising freshman season, has had control issues that have limited his innings in 2018 and 2019. The dude can mow down hitters, though.

LHP Jacob Hennessy (JR) - 3-1, 0 SV, 4.68 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, .252 OBA, 17.3 K%, 7.2 BB%, 32.2 IP, 32 H, 22 R, 17 ER, 10 BB, 24 K. Hennessy was Clemson’s Friday night starter in 2018 and, well, I can’t quite figure out why he isn’t in the weekend starting rotation in 2019. He has started four games this season, including two on Sundays. The problem has been his midweek starts have been excellent (11.1 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K), but his weekend starts have been atrocious (5.2 IP, 12 H, 11 R, 7 ER, 1 BB, 6 K). Still, given his experience and the lack of a consistent third weekend starter option, I’m surprised the staff hasn’t given him more opportunities at the gig.


Quick! Fun Facts!

Saturday’s game is a “Strikeout ALS” game. Go out to the game, support the team, and help raise money to fight an opponent worse than anything baseball could ever throw at us.

Sunday is State’s final home game, with seniors Evan Edwards and Nolan Clenney being honored, as well as juniors Will Wilson and Dillon Cooper, both of whom are completing their undergraduate degrees this semester. Former pitcher Austin Staley will also be honored Sunday.


Prediction

As noted above, don’t let the record fool you: this is a ridiculously talented and dangerous Clemson squad. Somebody’s going to get this team in their regional and be rightfully pissed about it.

This is a tough match-up with a highly skilled opponent... We’re in for three hard-fought contests.

Outcome: State takes two out of three with each of the three games being decided by two runs or less.