Hey folks. I’m gonna preview this weekend’s series against Oklahoma State in a bit, but before we get there, we have a few housekeeping notes that we need to talk about before we get there. We’ve got some good news, some bad news, and some much worse news.
- Let’s get the worst news out of the way first. As mentioned in the weekend recap after the Michigan series, Cole McDonald was removed from his start with an apparent elbow injury. There isn’t any official news on this front, but this tidbit from Rick Heller’s pregame interview on Wednesday is incredibly discouraging.
McDonald has been phenomenal as a Sunday starter all season, and if he needs Tommy John surgery again, he’s likely to be out through most of next season as well, if not the whole thing. There isn’t really anyone that figures to be able to step into his role as Sunday starter, but the most likely candidates are probably Trenton Wallace, who’s been dealing with his own forearm tightness for about a month now, and Jack Dreyer. The problem here, of course, is that in 25 combined appearances, the two have thrown less than 40 total innings and will need to be stretched out unless Heller plans on using the hell out of the bullpen through the Big Ten Tournament and potentially Regionals.
- The bad news: Iowa dropped a heartbreaker on Tuesday against Missouri, 17-16. The big problem here is that the Hawks held leads of 8-0 and 13-6 and squandered them both. The offense showed out, hitting six home runs, but after Trenton Wallace threw three shutout innings, not a soul in the ‘pen was particularly serviceable. It happens sometimes, but rarely do you see six guys give up a bunch of runs like you saw on Tuesday. Here’s the box score. It sure is something to behold.
- And now, for the best news I’m going to give you before we get into OK State. Iowa’s contest against Western Illinois on Wednesday was rained out and will not be made up. Why is this such good news? With an RPI of near 300, playing the Leathernecks is a no-win situation for Iowa - the Hawks win, and cool, ya beat a team that stinks. If they lose? That’s an RPI killer. In not having to risk it on Wednesday, the Hawkeyes are winners.
The only problem is that it’s a scheduled home-and-home this season, and the Hawks travel to Macomb next week to play WIU. Maybe that’ll get rained out too.
Alright, now that we got all of that out of the way, it’s time to talk about Iowa’s series this weekend. Oklahoma State comes to town and after a slow start to the season, they’re red hot since they began conference play. They’re 15-3 in the Big 12, but they have lost four of their last five non-conference games, so they’re by no means unbeatable. This weekend will be a great chance for Iowa to improve their RPI, and while this isn’t a must-win series by any means (give that a read to find out where some national guys think Iowa stands now), winning a couple games would go a long way in solidifying them as a team inside the bubble for NCAAs. This will be Iowa’s last chance at quality wins this season, with a one-off against WIU and a weekend series against both of the Big Ten’s bottom feeders, Penn State and Northwestern, left. Basically, it’d be a nice boost to their non-conference schedule to see a couple more victories against good competition before they get into must-win territory against the bad competition.
Friday: 6:05 p.m. CT
Probables: LHP Nick Allgeyer (5-3, 2.18 ERA) vs. RHP Joe Lienhard (5-1, 4.10 ERA)
Saturday: 2:05 p.m. CT
Probables: RHP Brady Schanuel (5-6, 5.12 ERA) vs. LHP Carson Teel (6-2, 2.86 ERA)
Sunday: 12:05 p.m. CT
Probables: TBA vs. RHP Jonathan Heasley (3-3, 6.63 ERA)
Previewing Oklahoma State
Record: 27-15-1 Overall (15-3 Big 12)
Ranking: #17 (D1 Baseball), #19 (USA Today Coaches, Baseball America, NCBWA)
If you need a name to watch, look no further than Colin Simpson, who’s just preposterous at the plate. The junior is hitting .298 on the season with 14 home runs, 12 doubles, and 43 RBI. He’s by far OSU’s leader in home runs, and a big reason that they’ve hit 46 as a team this season (for reference, Iowa has hit 36, with seven of those coming in their most recent game against Mizzou). The Cowboys hit .263 as a team, which is pretty average, but their propensity for the long ball and hitting the balls to the gaps (90 doubles, nine triples as a team) has been what drives them.
On the mound, OSU is actually pretty pedestrian. They own a 4.67 ERA as a team, which definitely isn’t impressive, and they don’t have a standout that jumps off the page like a lot of the teams Iowa’s faced this season. That said, they also don’t have anyone who’s performed that poorly this season, either. They have a few pitchers who have sub-3.00 ERAs, while they have a couple above 5.00. The pitcher Iowa has the best shot at beating up on this weekend is Sunday’s starter Jonathan Heasley, who owns a 6.63 ERA after 11 starts. If McDonald weren’t out for the Hawkeyes, I’d give Iowa a great chance at winning this game, but without him, it’ll be intriguing to see what Iowa does on the mound to get through this game against solid competition.
Overall, this OK State team likely won’t beat the Hawkeyes on the mound. Iowa’s going to need Brady Schanuel’s A-game this weekend after a few bad weekends and they’ll likely need a staff-wide performance on Sunday. Ideally, Nick Allgeyer will go deep into Friday’s ballgame, which has become the norm for him lately, as he almost always makes it to the seventh inning at this point in the season. If the arms can keep the Cowboys from putting up a bunch of runs, there’s no reason to think Iowa couldn’t win this series.
Let’s get some quality wins, boys.
How to Watch
All of the games this weekend will be available on BTN Plus, and as per usual, you can catch them on the Hawkeye Radio Network where available.