Michigan has been playing well recently. Jenna Hickey/Daily. Buy this photo.

The Michigan baseball team has been putting the brooms to use.

The Wolverines have swept their last two weekend series, first against Cal State Fullerton and then against rivals Michigan State.

But Michigan has shown repeated inconsistency throughout the season — a midweek loss to 10-23 Purdue Fort Wayne a prime example. Now that the Big Ten race has started to pick up, finding consistency is paramount. 

“We just need to be more consistent in how we play,” Michigan coach Erik Bakich said after a series loss to Iowa in early April. “We’re falling short way short right now of what the standard of Michigan baseball is and what our expectations are.”

The Wolverines stand at 6-3 in conference play, good for fifth out of the 13 teams. So far in conference play, they have won a series 2-1, lost a series 1-2 and swept a series. On paper, that’s certainly not a bad start to the schedule, but what can the details of these series show about this Michigan team?

The Wolverines have a good offense. They get on base, they can hit the ball hard and they have repeatedly proven capable of high run totals.

But so has most of the Big Ten.

Within the conference, Michigan is tied for sixth best batting average, in seventh for on base percentage, and fifth for slugging percentage. 

However its pitching has not matched up to the rest of the conference.

The staff sits at 10th in ERA and 12th in batting average against. It has also issued the second most walks and fourth most hit-by-pitches.

This disparity showed in the series results against Nebraska and Iowa.

Against the Cornhuskers, who are currently 13-21 overall and 4-5 in Big Ten play, the offense came to play, but the pitching struggled. While the Wolverines did win the series against a subpar Nebraska team, it was a series they should have swept with ease given they scored nine runs in the loss. That is, if they could find much-needed consistency.

But pitching woes were prevalent and kept the series far closer than it should have ever been. 

The weekend after against the Hawkeyes, currently 20-12 overall and 6-3 in Big Ten play, Michigan learned what can happen when the offense is also overmatched.

The Iowa pitching kept the Wolverines down, never allowing more than three runs, and that was not nearly enough of a cushion for the Michigan pitching, which led to 8-2 and 10-3 blowouts in games one and three. 

However, the Wolverines’ game-two win against Iowa also showed a flash of things to come. In its only shutout of the season so far, Michigan’s pitchers — sophomore left-hander Connor O’Halloran, junior right-hander Noah Rennard, and sophomore right-hander Chase Allen — all showed off their talent, and since then have continued to perform with that elusive consistency the Wolverines have been searching for.

To stay in the mix, they need to win the upcoming series against Ohio State and Purdue. And they seem to be building the consistency to pull it off. If this team has any remaining ambitions of a Big Ten title, it needs to do so — and then go on a run.

Though it was not a conference series, Michigan’s series sweep of CSF the weekend after the Iowa series was an important step. The team showed up everyday and outscored the opponent. And it seemed to take that confidence boost into the rivalry series against the Spartans.

“We played pretty good baseball all weekend,” Bakich said. “It’s building momentum for yourself and taking that into the next one.”

And they did retain that momentum.

Against Michigan State, the Wolverines just played good baseball, consistent baseball.

The pitching kept the Spartan bats cool all weekend, and the offense was pounding the ball all over the place. 

“I think it’s just the thing our staff needed.” Allen said. “We got a bunch of great dudes with great work ethic. … It was a matter of time and now we’re finally seeing.” 

Granted, Michigan State is hardly a top team in the Big Ten. The Spartans sit at 13-19 overall and a measly 2-7 in conference play. Regardless, because of that series sweep Michigan remains within striking distance of the Big Ten. 

If it has learned enough about itself to fix its rampant consistency issues then maybe the season can be turned around, and a postseason berth is possible.

However, if the past two weekends prove to only be a fleeting moment of consistency against underwhelming opponents, then the Wolverines are destined for a mid-table finish and an early exit from the Big Ten Tournament.