The Hurricanes have been playing slightly better this past week, especially hitting.
However they continue to struggle in both pitching and defense, so let’s look at a few reasons why the struggles continue, and maybe look at a few ways the struggles can be fixed.
The Hurricanes have had major struggles defensively, committing 25 errors in 17 games, and having a team .962 fielding percentage.
This is strange for a Jim Morris led team, where normally we are used to seeing the ‘Canes near the top of the country defensively, in fact last year’s NCAA College World Series team was the #1 team in the country in fielding percentage.
One area where the struggles are coming from is a lack of defensive range, especially in the infield, where players are playing out of position. For example, Romy Gonzalez, the current Hurricanes’ starting SS, is really a third baseman. He has played here since the start of the season due to Johnny Ruiz’s elbow injury. Gonzalez isn’t necessarily playing shortstop badly, but he can’t make the plays that we are used to seeing from someone like Johnny Ruiz, who knows the nuances of the position.
Now at first glance a problem like this may appear difficult to solve, because Romy Gonzalez has been one of the best, if not the best hitter on Miami’s roster this season, but if we look at his true position at third, we see Edgar Michelangeli, who is batting .130 on the season. I would like to see Morris try, at least for a few games, to move Romy to third, and play someone like Brandon Gali at shortstop. Gali was given a few chances at the start of the season, but he was replaced in favor of this new lineup after early struggles. If this change is made and Gali’s bat gets warm, then Morris has solved two problems at once, providing a true shortstop defensively, and replacing a hole in the lineup offensively.
Another source of the defensive struggles has been careless decisions and throws. All too often the Hurricanes have made one too many throws in the infield, or have tried to make a play that is almost certainly impossible to make. One of the most difficult things to coach a player in is when not to attempt to make a play. For example, in Tuesday night’s win over Maine, Joe Gomez attempted to make an unnecessary throw to third after getting an out on a rundown, if Romy Gonzalez hadn’t been there to jump up and catch what was a high throw, the game would have been tied, and very well could have swung the other way. If the staff can cut out plays like this and stress and re-teach basic fundamentals and mechanics, this team will improve a great deal defensively. We all know that Miami can make the spectacular plays defensively, but sometimes it can be the routine ones that are the most difficult.
The Hurricanes’ pitching started out the season in dominant fashion, except for Michael Mediavilla, but in the past week have found themselves struggling.
The Hurricanes entire staff has struggled with control, especially with leaving pitches too high in the zone. This past weekend in the series vs Georgia Tech, especially in Game 1, I felt that the Hurricanes were actually lucky to only give away 8 runs. Jesse was leaving everything high in the zone, and playing in the ACC means playing good hitting teams. If the staff struggles to get the ball down in the zone later on in ACC play, the Hurricanes are going to struggle to win. Fortunately having a pitching coach like J.D Arteaga bodes well for Miami’s chances to return to their form at the beginning of the season.
We have seen how this staff can perform, it is just a matter of settling the staff down and getting the confidence back.
What do you think of Miami’s team so far? Tell us in the comments below?