Young arms emerging in bullpen, lineup hitting .159 against lefties

Clemson left fielder Shane Kennedy watches a pitch go by.

Photo by Nathan Gray

Clemson left fielder Shane Kennedy watches a pitch go by.

Clemson faces a lefty today hosting Wofford, and a State team this weekend with a few left-handed options as well.

If you’ve followed Tiger baseball at all this season, you know that’s a problem.

Per Seldom Used Reserve, the Tigers have hit just .159 against lefties so far, and over the weekend, didn’t score a run in 17 innings against southpaw South Carolina starters.

Only two Tigers have really had any measure of success, in catcher Garrett Boulware (.308) and right fielder Steven Duggar (.250). Designated hitter Shane Kennedy has the most RBIs (2) against left-handers, but has also struck out a team-high seven times, batting .158.

Boulware is also among the leaders batting against right-handers, with five RBIs and a .417 average. In the same category, Kennedy and second baseman Steve Wilkerson lead in RBIs (7) and Wilkerson is batting .524 doing so.

Overall, senior center fielder Thomas Brittle’s struggles at the top of the lineup (.243) has thrown the lineup out of whack. Brittle is second in strikeouts (9), but leads in walks (5).

He is averaging a strikeout every 4.6 at-bats, compared to every 7.1 over the course of 2012. His hits per at-bat have dropped by 0.7 (4.1 to 3.4).

Clemson’s revamped weekend rotation has been outstanding, allowing just six earned runs in eight starts, with under two walks and almost five strikeouts per outing.

In relief, righty side-armer Kyle Schnell is making a name for himself. The junior college signee (soph.) hasn’t allowed a run in six innings pitched, with a .100 opposing batting average and no walks.

Freshman lefty Zack Erwin has retired all five and struck out four left-handed bats this season, joining Schnell, righty side-armer Clay Bates and fellow lefty Joseph Moorefield among relievers with multiple appearances and no earned runs allowed on the season.

On the downside, senior right-hander Jonathan Meyer is giving up a hit every 3.7 batters faced and a run every 6.5. Bates has given up a hit every 3.2 faced.

For comparison, right-handed starter Scott Firth, pacing the Tigers, is giving up a hit every 5.4 batters and an earned run every 41, and righty Daniel Gossett is surrendering a hit every 5.1 at-bats and an earned run every 38.5.

Defensively, Wilkerson is the only Tiger with multiple errors (3), with a .938 fielding percentage. He had a .936 fielding percentage with a team-high 18 errors last season.

As a team, Clemson is second in the ACC in fielding (.978), with the least errors (9) and second-most double plays turned (10).

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