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Spartan Baseball Series Preview: No. 15 Michigan

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Michigan State is set for one last brawl with the Wolverines

The Spartans are ready to conclude the regular season with a three game series against No. 15 Michigan.

Michigan State will host the Wolverines in a home-away-home weekend. So MSU will have two chances to close out Michigan in front of the home crowd.

Sparty enters their final weekend featuring a 29-21 record — they have one final shot at finishing the conference season 12-12 (.500).

Michigan State is also coming off a week and a half where they beat all of their in-state foes before turning to the Wolverines.

The Basics

The Numbers

  • Record: 40-12 (14-7 conference, 13-5 Away)
  • Best Win: vs Oklahoma (RPI: 16), W 6-2
  • Worst Loss: vs Northern Illinois (RPI: 259), L 5-8

Last Five Games

  • 5/16 — Eastern Michigan, W 12-4
  • 5/14 — Purdue, W 5-1
  • 5/13 — Purdue, W 9-4
  • 5/12 — Purdue, W 2-0
  • 5/10 — Central Michigan, L 3-4

Michigan is a top 15 team in the country, they have been for most of this year. Which is exactly why UM is walking into this weekend having a 40-12 overall record with a 14-7 B1G mark right behind it. The Wolverines are very much in the running for the regular season title, currently third in the conference, but only a half game back of first place.

UM is coming off a 12-4 rout of the Eastern Michigan Eagles before they went on the road for a three game series against Purdue. A series that UM swept.

Much as it pains me, it’s hard to find anything wrong with this Wolverine team.

Wolverines To Know

It’s no secret that the Wolverines center fielder, Johnny Slater has made a household name for himself in the Big Ten. He has been one of the most productive players the conference has to offer.

Slater has started in all of the Wolverines 51 games and has consistently been their best all around player in 2017. The senior never hit higher than .229 during his sophomore season, in a way fans could say he saved his best for last.

Going into the final regular season series against Michigan State Slater is hitting .313 (57-for-182), with 11 doubles, seven triples, three home runs, and 44 RBI. All his stats have put him in the top three for almost every offensive category on this UM team.

Defensively speaking their starting pitchers have won them a total of 25 games and seven losses. More than half of UM’s wins were because of their stellar pitching staff.

In 2017 their starters look like this:

  • Oliver Jaskie: ERA - 2.99, 7-2, 75.1 IP, 63 H, 25 ER, 98 SO
  • Alec Rennard: ERA - 3.92, 6-1, 57.1 IP, 56 H, 25 ER, 56 SO
  • Michael Hendrickson: ERA - 4.12, 6-2, 63.1 IP, 60 H, 29 ER, 60 SO
  • Ryan Nutof: ERA - 4.40, 6-2, 61.1 IP, 64 H, 30 ER, 56 SO

How The Spartans Match Up

When the Spartans matched up with the Wolverines earlier in the year they hung around longer than I anticipated. Heck MSU even led at one point but then Michigan kicked it into high gear. UM would go onto win the ball game 12-4.

I see the same thing happening during this series. UM is a bad match up for Michigan State — mostly because the Wolverines are really good and the Spartans have done horrible against good competition.

There’s a reason that Michigan is going to finish the season with 40 plus wins and Michigan State might not even crack 30.

Rivals or not the Spartans are in over their heads this weekend.

Prediction

I can put this final regular season series into a few simple words. Michigan State just isn’t very good and the Wolverines are just that good.

In all seriousness though, Michigan is a phenomenal team who has far exceeded expectations this year. The Spartans came into this season with high aspirations and they fell way short of those goals. There has been 0 progression with MSU, in fact they may have regressed since the beginning of the year as a unit.

Michigan will win the series and they won’t take it easy on us. Nor should they.

MSU loses series 1-2