The Michigan baseball team (21-11 Big Ten) will play its remaining four regular-season series against Michigan State, Indiana, Maryland, and Nebraska.
In particular, the games against the Hoosiers and Cornhuskers (ranked first and third in the Big Ten respectively) will show how the Wolverines stack up against the best of the conference.
After its recent up-and-down offensive performances against Illinois, Michigan has a lot to prove in terms of consistency on both sides of the ball. For the second-place Wolverines to retake their spot at the top of the conference, The Daily looks at what Michigan must do in its toughest remaining series to accomplish that goal.
The Wolverines will play the Big Ten-leading Hoosiers in a three-game series in just one week. Indiana’s strengths are its depth on the mound, staunch defense and consistency scoring runs. Currently, Hoosiers pitcher Gabe Bierman leads the Big Ten with an ERA of 2.51, and pitcher McCade Brown is not far behind him, ranking 10th with an ERA of 3.38.
Additionally, Indiana leads the Big Ten in batting average with 0.286. Michigan is right behind, at 0.282.
It’s no surprise that the Hoosiers defense will test the Wolverines on one of their biggest weaknesses: a lack of consistency.
Throughout this season, such as in series against Michigan State and more recently against Illinois, Michigan’s bats can rally for 19-run explosions or go completely silent until the bottom of the ninth, a trend that could spell trouble against the best team in the conference.
The Wolverines’ final three games will be against the Cornhuskers, who are just one game behind Michigan. Nebraska’s strength is its ability to control the field, in addition to having a top-five Big Ten pitcher in Cade Povitch.
In particular, the Cornhuskers boast a Stolen Base Average (SBA%) of just 0.522, allowing far fewer stolen bases than any other team in the conference.
Considering Nebraska’s discipline and stinginess with runs, the Wolverines will face another difficult defensive opponent that will test Michigan’s batting order and require players to step up in order to win.
While the Wolverines have also remained amongst the top defensive teams in the Big Ten, the Cornhuskers present a more difficult challenge, something the Michigan dugout should use as motivation to close out strong in three weeks’ time.