MWC Begins the MWC Season
That's right . The games begin to count in the standings this weekend. Seems far too early to me but here we are. I suspect most of you are aware that not all the member teams will be in Mountain West matchup due to the odd number of teams. One of the teams will always be playing an OOC series. I must admit that it makes for an easier writeup.
Dallas Baptist (5-3) at New Mexico (6-1)
This is a good series. Dallas Baptist boasts two strong starting pitchers going against a team batting well over .300 for the season, .331 to be exact.. Like the old song says, something's gotta give. The Lobos have four .400 hitters in Chris DeVito (.440), Dalton Bowers (.429), Jack Zoellner (.423), and Luis Gonzalez (.400). That's four guys in the starting lineup! Pitchers beware. New Mexico also is getting pretty good pitching from the rotation. James Harrington (2-0 and 2.84), Tyler Stevens (1-0 and 3.18), and Carson Schneider (2-0 and 3.27). That's a more than decent starting three. Is it any wonder why New Mexico is rated #24? They'll be tested.
Dallas Baptist is a tournament tested team as they went to a regional last season. They are hitting pretty well at .289 but it's the pitching that is doing most of the heavy work. Colin Poche (0-0 and 0.00 in 12 IP) is one of the aces as is Darick Hall (1-0 and 0.71). That will prove a tough nut to crack for the Lobo offense. Other than the two studs mentioned the pitching has been ok (4.31) so I'd guess the Friday and Saturday games are the ones to really watch. Like I said, a good series.
San Jose State (4-6) at UNLV (1-5)
The Spartans could have a record of 6-4 except for a couple of late inning collapses. Can't change that but even at 4-6 you can see some improvement. They are hitting .263 which ain't too hot but they haven't faced any DII teams either. Top hitter is Shane Timmons at .395 and 1 and then comes Brett Bautista (.350 and 1). Both of these were expected. Developing players are Aaron Pleschner (.375 in 16 ABs) and Joe Stefanki (.333 in 27 ABs). Pitching has improved even though a team ERA of 5.90 doesn't suggest that. The rotation has been adequate as two guys are doing well in the rotation but Coach still has some work to do for the Sunday guy and midweek game. Logan Handzlik (1-0 and 3.27) is doing well after an injury season in 2015. Matt Brown (1-0 and 3.48) is also doing well as I thought he might. Natural sink is good. The relief corps tends to make fans hold their breath. No closer to speak of but keep an eye on Hilario Tovar as he may start and relieve this weekend.
The Rebels are hitting a miniscule .210 which is 100 points less than the opposition is hitting against them. That just about says it all. Payton Squier is doing all he can at .417 but the thing about baseball is that you can avoid the one hitter that can hurt you. Pitch around them, walk them. or some other strategy that avoids the big bat. For those who really follow baseball, remember when Barry Bonds was avoided and got one pitch to hit a game and still did damage? Anyway, not much hitting here. The team ERA is a tad over seven which is not good. The starters have been giving it up with only Dean Kremer (0-1 and 4.09) showing any real production on the bump. Two struggling programs. Wow.
Nevada (4-5) at Air Force (5-2)
Air Force was riding high at 5-0 when they visited a real foe in Navy which took two of three and brought the fly boys back to earth a bit. However, they can hit (.302) and pitching has been good also (2.32). The Falcons have five .300 hitters led by Adam Groesbeck (.464) and Bradley Haslam (.448). So the offense is in good hands. Pitching has shown it can handle its end of the deal but the starting pitching has been only so-so and Griffin Jax (1-1 and 1.38) is the leader. The strength of the staff might be the pen as seven guys have yet to give up a run.
Nevada has gotten off to a shrug of the shoulders start at 4-5. I thought they wouldn't be that good this year but in doing my research they returned quite a few stars from a veteran squad. They are hitting a healthy .297 and pitching is acceptable at 4.08. There are six full time .300 hitters on this squad led by Miles Mastrobuoni (.519) and TJ Friedl (.385 and 1). Trenton Brooks is hitting below the Mendoza line and I don't expect that to last. The three in the weekend rotation are doing well. Christian Stolo (0-2 2.45), Mark Nowaczewski (1-0 and 3.00), and Zach Wilkins (2-0 and 3.86) give the team a chance in every weekend series. Makes you wonder why only four wins? Could be the pen.
Fresno State (9-0) at San Diego State (1-8)
One team has caught the wave and is riding high and the other is in the stages of wiping out. Both instances are a bit of surprise. Let's talk Dawgs first. The mutts are led by the pitchers. The team ERA is an unbelievable 1.33 and the only bad ERAs are for two arms with a total of 1 2/3 IP. Coach is getting production from all cylinders. No real need to go into details here but four starters are coming up aces. Anthony Arias hasn't been scored on yet, Jimmy Lambert, Ricky Thomas (19 strikeouts in 12 IP), and Edgar Gonzalez (the bum of the bunch at 1.80) are doing what a coach wants. Hitting is ok but not great. I said it's the pitching. They have five .300 hitters and Brody Russell leads that bunch at .409.
The Aztecs, on the other hand, have been short on too many fronts. Team BA is below average .240 and the same can be said of the pitching (5.58). That will get you one win in nine tries. Alan Trejo is the lone .300 hitter at .316. Starting pitching has been stellar. Harrison Pyatt (0-0 and 1.50) and Brett Seeburger (0-0 and 1.69) have given pretty much all they can. After those two the pitching starts falling apart. If they can score some runs for those two and they can go deep into a game or two, they may win a game or two.