It's March! It's Duke! It's UVA! Will Zion play?????? How will the Hoos handle the Dark Lord of Durham's switches on screens???
This is baseball and we'll have none of that hype or noise on Grounds this weekend. And that's quite okay. But it is opening weekend in ACC baseball play. This is an important series to set the tone.
Virginia: 7-5 (Overall), 0-0 (ACC)
Duke: 9-4 (Overall), 0-0 (ACC)
Friday: 6:30 PM
Saturday: 1:00 PM
Sunday: 1:00 PM
Other ACC Weekend Action
Notre Dame (3-7, 0-0) at Wake Forest (8-6, 0-0)
North Carolina (12-1, 0-0) at Clemson (9-3, 0-0)
Virginia Tech (7-3, 0-0) at Florida State (11-0, 0-0)
Pitt (5-4, 0-0) at NC State (12-0, 0-0)
Boston College (7-4, 0-0) at Louisville (9-3, 0-0)
Georgia Tech (9-4, 0-0) at Miami (10-2, 0-0)
Projected Starting Pitchers
Friday - UVA: RHP Noah Murdock (0-1, 4.00 ERA, 18.0 IP, 4 walks, 16 strikeouts) vs Duke: LHP Graeme Stinson (2-0, 0.00 ERA, 12.0 IP, 4 walks, 18 strikeouts)
Buckle up Wahoo fans. Stinson is legit and projected as a top 15, or possibly top 10, pick in the 2019 MLB Draft. He's touted as likely the best college arm in the draft. Opponents are batting just .053 on the season against Stinson as he's surrendered only 2 hits. Oddly enough, in his three starts he's only pitched 3.0, 4.0, and 5.0 innings respectively. In his last start against Penn State last Friday, Stinson pitched the first 5.0 innings of a combined no hitter for the Blue Devils.
Last season, Duke mostly used the 6-5 260 pounder as a reliever. Stinson made 23 appearances on the mound but only started 4 games.
Stinson did not pitch against UVA last season but started the series finale in Charlottesville in 2017. The Hoos won that game 13-6. They chased Stinson in the first before he could record an out. UVA recorded only 1 hit but tagged Stinson for 5 runs (all earned).
Expect much more resistance this time.
Saturday - UVA: RHP Griff McGarry (2-1, 3.60 ERA, 15.0 IP, 14 walks, 20 strikeouts) vs Duke: RHP Bryce Jarvis (1-0, 6.17 ERA, 11.2 IP, 8 walks, 20 strikeouts)
Jarvis, a sophomore right hander, has three starts on the season for Duke. The Blue Devils are 2-1 in his starts beating Lehigh and Northwestern easily while most recently falling to Penn State. The best outing of the year for Jarvis was his season debut against Lehigh where he struck out 9, allowed 1 run (earned), gave up 1 hit, and walked 1. He only pitched 4.0 innings in that game as Duke won easily, 8-1. Since, he was roughed up against Northwestern (5 earned runs in 2.2 innings) and had a middling start in a Duke loss to Penn State (5.0 IP, 7 hits, 4 runs - 3 earned, 1 walk, and 2 wild pitches). Like most young pitchers, Jarvis appears to be looking to find that consistency that can be so elusive.
This will be the career debut versus UVA for Jarvis.
Sunday - UVA: RHP Mike Vasil (1-1, 3.77 ERA, 14.1 IP, 8 walks, 11 strikeouts) vs Duke: TBD
It feels like a bit of a trend so far but once again; the opposition's Sunday starter is TBD. Best guesses for Duke are either freshman RHP Cooper Stinson or junior LHP Bill Chillari. Both have made 3 starts to date this season. Chillari last started Tuesday in a loss to Penn but only threw 2.0 innings. Cooper Stinson, Duke's Sunday starter to date, last pitched last Sunday in Duke's win over Penn State.
If forced to make a prediction, I'd go with Cooper Stinson. Cooper is the younger brother of Duke's Friday starter Graeme Stinson. The younger Stinson is a righty and gives up 15 pounds to his older brother but is an inch taller.
On the season, the freshman is 0-0 with a 3.75 ERA. He's pitched 12.0 innings allowing 9 walks and striking out 20.
There's also a chance that junior lefty Adam Laskey makes his season debut. Laskey has missed all of 2019 with shoulder inflammation. He was expected to miss the first few weeks of the season and be ready to pitch in mid-March.
Laskey is a veteran that went 6-4 with a 5.47 ERA in 15 starts and 75.2 IP for Duke last season. Opponents batted .276 against him in 2018. Laskey started the series opener in Durham against UVA last year, picking up the win in a 6-3 Duke victory. Laskey pitched just okay against the Hoos going 5.2 innings while giving up 3 runs (all earned), 3 hits, 5 walks, and striking out 4.
Weather Watch (Courtesy of Weather.com)
Friday's game was scheduled for 4:00 but has been delayed to 5:00 and then 6:30. It's snowing in Charlottesville now. And the forecast for 6:30 in Charlottesville shows a 70% chance of snow/rain with a temperature in the mid-30s. Winds are negligible.
The chance of rain at 1:00 PM on Saturday is only 5% currently. That holds steady until late afternoon where it rises from 5% to 10% and onward up to 65% by 7:00 PM. The early morning forecast for Saturday has the chance of precipitation at 10%. Temps will be in the lower 40s at scheduled game time on Saturday with very little wind to speak of again.
The weather on Sunday is forecasted to be a welcome respite. At scheduled game time, there's no precipitation in the forecast and temps are predicted to be in the lower 60s. Winds will be about 10 MPH.
ACC Network Extra via ESPN has live video streaming scheduled for each game.
Blue Devils To Watch
Graeme Stinson is the obvious name here and he's covered above.
Senior outfielder Kennie Taylor has a reputation as a defensive wizard. But his bat has also made an impression in 2019. He currently leads Duke in hits (23), batting average (.383), doubles (7), RBI (18), total bases (41), slugging (.683), and stolen bases (6 for 7). He's tied for the Blue Devil lead in homers (3) and is tops among regulars in on base percentage (.431). In the field, Taylor sports a perfect fielding percentage.
Despite Duke having the best player in the series in Graeme Stinson, these teams are pretty even. In the ACC Preseason Coaches Poll, the Hoos and Devils tied for second in the Coastal with UVA picking up one first place vote to none for the Devils. All statistical categories are either close between the two teams or the advantage is nearly evenly split between the two sides.
Last year in Durham, Duke took 2 of 3 including a one run win in 11 innings in the deciding game.
Duke is looking to build off their Super Regional appearance last year after winning the Athens, GA Regional when they upset number 8 national seed Georgia. They lost some important talent off the 2018 squad and the results on the field reflect that.
The Blue Devils are coming off two consecutive losses to Penn in their mid-week series.
I like Duke to win the series opener where they'll have a big advantage on the mound. From there it's anyone's guess as the Hoos aren't playing quite as well as hoped yet. But Duke has played a pretty soft schedule. And the Hoos will be more prepared for the step up in competition having already played Vanderbilt, TCU, and Fullerton. Playing at home should certainly be beneficial too, especially if fans fill the stands at Davenport Field.
I think this series is a real tossup. I'm feeling optimistic today, so I'll give UVA the nod 2 to 1.