College | Story | 4/15/2019

Scout Take: Michigan

Photo: Jesse Franklin (Michigan Athletics)

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Michigan Wolverines

What Happened: Michigan beat Michigan State en route to winning both games of a weather-shortened series and split a pair of midweek matchups with Indiana State. Most recently they lost a road series to Ohio State. What has this told us about Michigan? Not much, really. They should have beaten MSU soundly, which they did. Indiana State is a good team so splitting a pair of midweeks with them is not a bad thing. They're still waiting for a bit more offensive consistency, and while the starting pitching has still been very good, it has come back down to earth a bit after an otherworldly start. 

Carrying Tool: This is still the Wolverine starting pitching, as Tommy Henry, Karl Kauffmann and Jeff Criswell are all pitching at a high level and performing well. In fact, their ERA's in that order are 2.64 (Henry), 2.88 (Kauffmann) and 2.96 (Criswell). Henry and Kauffmann specifically are doing a really good job of throwing strikes, while Criswell, the power-armed sophomore, walks more hitters than his junior rotation compatriots, but misses bats at an extremely high level. Isaiah Paige, who actually has the fourth-most innings on the team behind those three, has done a really nice job both in midweek starts and relief appearances on the weekend, pitching to a 2.36 ERA as well. 

Concerns: Bullpen depth. The big three in the starting rotation have been excellent, and the Wolverines are definitely pleased with how freshman Willie Weiss has done out of the bullpen so far, but there are some depth concerns at play. Angelo Smith has gotten better as the season has gone but is still walking too many hitters while Jack Weisenburger really hasn't been on the mound that much in 2019. Both were expected to be key bullpen pieces this season. Senior Ben Keizer has come on in a big way in his final season, but the Wolverines are still looking for that slam-dunk setup type reliever to step up to help bridge the gap between the weekend starters and Willie Weiss at the back end. 

Best Player on the Field: Tommy Henry. Michigan's ace has had some uncharacteristically rocky outings in recent weeks, but he's still one of the best pitchers in the Midwest this year and should be a pretty high draft pick this June. In mid-April Henry is 6-3 with a 2.64 ERA across 58 innings. He's allowed 42 hits and 13 walks (0.95 WHIP) with 67 strikeouts in those 58 frames. The full report on Henry is below, but in summation he's a good-sized lefthander with three pitches that are all at least average at present and can miss bats with all three. His command has gotten shaky in some outings, but when he's locked in he looks like a first rounder. 

Fearless Forecast: Postseason club. Nebraska currently leads the Big Ten race with Indiana just behind them, then Michigan, Minnesota, and Iowa are all bunched up three games back. Michigan will play both Nebraska and Indiana later in the season, and have already taken a series from Minnesota, so the Big Ten regular season title could be theirs for the taking if they go on a run and take care of business. A strong finish to the season and a solid run in the Big Ten Tournament could equal a postseason berth for the Wolverines, even with no Big Ten title.

Players covered: Jesse Franklin, Jordan Nwogu, Jordan BrewerJack BlomgrenTommy Henry, Karl Kauffmann, Jeff Criswell, Willie Weiss.

Jesse Franklin
Franklin came into Ann Arbor with a good deal of hype, and he delivered on a good bit of it with a monster freshman season playing first base. A natural center fielder who was limited to first as a freshman due to an arm injury, Franklin is back in center field now for the Maize and Blue and is playing well. His offensive performance has been pretty streaky for spurts of the 2019 campaign, but the overall numbers are solid if you ignore the batting average. He's slashing .238/.394/.525 with team leads in home runs (10) and walks (28). In fact, he has a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 1-to-1 right now. 

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