FAU hasn’t lost a weekend series all season and currently sits in a tie for second place in Conference USA, one game out of first.
The Owls are well positioned for the stretch run, right?
“I would think that starting pitching is a concern,” FAU coach John McCormack said.
To see the reason for McCormack’s angst, look no further than this past weekend. Friday starter Alex House continued his inconsistency, surrendering seven runs, four earned, in 4 2/3 innings. And while Marc Stewart gave the Owls a solid if unspectacular 5 1/3 on Saturday, Sunday starter Jake Miednik didn’t record an out while allowing nine runs.
Miednik’s velocity was down a few miles per hour on Saturday and he walked five, but McCormack chalked the performance up to an anomaly, not injury.
“He didn’t pitch great,” McCormack said. “They laid off some really good pitches to get into better counts.”
In House, Stewart and Miednik, FAU’s weekend rotation sports ERA’s of 4.56, 4.55 and 6.26 respectively.
“I think the starting pitching has been average at best all year,” McCormack said. “I don’t know if it’s fixable. We can change the cast of characters. I don’t know if that will be the answer but certainly we could go that direction a week or two down the line if we think that’s necessary.”
Senior Sean Labsan takes his 1-1 record and 6.89 ERA to the mound on Tuesday at Central Florida. Earlier in the season McCormack indicated he’d eventually prefer to see Labsan in the weekend rotation.
Labsan’s not exactly forcing McCormack to make the move, though.
“This year, even our midweek starts haven’t been good,” McCormack concedes.
Mattis Out: Freshman Gary Mattis provided an early boost to FAU’s offense, but he may have played his last game for the Owls.
Mattis, whose .344 average remains second best among Owls, has been suspended indefinitely since March 25 for an unspecified violation of team rules.
“When the school year gets done we’re going to re-evaluate everything,” McCormack said. “It’s a shame. He’s a good player.”
Shouppe Shape: The return of Jared Shouppe from a hamstring injury coincided with the Mattis’ suspension and has mitigated any offensive drop-off. An opening day starter, Shouppe’s hitting .302 with two homers and 12 RBI in 26 at-bats.
“I really like him there in the two hole,” McCormack said. “He’s a very professional college hitter.”
Shouppe returned to right field, with David Miranda sliding over to the left field spot vacated by Mattis. Miranda recorded seven hits this past weekend and is tied for the team lead with seven homers to go with a .324 average.
“He’s far exceeded our expectations of what he was going to do this year,” McCormack said.
Home Away From Home: The deal for FAU to play two of its midweek home games at the newly-opened Ballpark of the Palm Beaches is complete, McCormack said.
FAU will play Florida Gulf Coast on April 25 and Central Florida on May 16 at the West Palm Beach ballpark, which serves as the spring training home for the Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals.
Moving those games about a half hour north means that FAU will not play another mid-week game at FAU stadium this season.