Javi Salas breaks down another ugly week for Canes baseball

Javi Salas breaks down another ugly week for Canes baseball


Miami’s slide continued this week, with a series loss to Louisville and a dispiriting, sloppy performance against Bethune-Cookman. Javi Salas, who threw the 23rd perfect game in Division 1 history, joined the CanesInSight Podcast to commiserate:

On the state of the team: It’s another Groundhog Day. It's been a Groundhog season for the Canes. We've sat here several times to diagnose and problem-solve on some of the issues the Hurricanes baseball team is having. At this point, it just seems like the same issues just keep bubbling up to the surface. This is a team that's 17-22 overall, 7-14 in the conference. We're entering some uncharted waters as a program.

On the Bethune-Cookman loss, which he called as color analyst: It was one of the more difficult games from a broadcasting standpoint, because it wasn't a clean baseball game whatsoever in Miami. Ten walks as a pitching staff. Five hit batters. Bethune is, for all intents and purposes, a much lighter opponent than what the Hurricanes are facing in their ACC slate.

You didn't want to see that coming off a sweep to Florida State. You thought there'd be a renewed focus. Come on, just dominate the game from the first inning. We didn't see that. They lost the game in one of the more helpless and hopeless ways you could ever imagine.

Bethune had four hits, two of them being infield variety. They did nothing to earn those runs. Miami put them on base and they kept walking them. All the runs were either scored by walks or hit by pitch. My broadcast partner, Glenn Geffner, is a baseball guy. He had never seen a game transpire in that manner.

It seemed like every arm that came out of the bullpen was having trouble throwing strikes. When they did get back into the game, they gave up the lead again right away. Just an effort that you don't want to see from a scuffling ball club that had come off a really tough weekend in Tallahassee.

On Sunday’s win: Sunday was a nice effort. They come out and run-rule Louisville. I've been watching the Hurricanes for a long time. I've never seen a 10-game ACC skid like we had. Those losing streaks are tough, especially for a program that's accustomed to winning.

There's 12 spots in the ACC Tournament. Miami currently sits at number 12 in the conference, two games ahead of Pitt and Notre Dame. They Pitt in an upcoming series. This might be the only opportunity for the Canes to push themselves into the NCAA Tournament if they can get hot here at the end.

On going 5-9 in state: It's unacceptable. If you ask Coach Arteaga and the other coaches on that staff, they'll be the first to tell you that you can't lose games in state. It’'s been the midweek games that have given us a ton of trouble. The FAUs of the world. UCF gave us trouble. Florida Gulf Coast beat us. Bethune-Cookman is the latest team to come into Coral Gables and handle Miami.

The ACC is always going to be competitive. But the bread and butter of making a regional and eventually hosting a regional is taking care of your business in the midweek. If you look at all the top teams, whether it's in the ACC or the SEC, they beat up on each other. You see a lot of .500 records in the conference. Where teams separate themselves is handling their midweek games against inferior opponents. We haven't seen the Canes do that this year.

You don't ever want FAU or FIU to think that they're on par with Miami and go in confident to Mark Light Stadium thinking that they can beat them. There has to be a renewed focus on having a very business-like approach. It's not going to be a packed crowd. It's tough to get up for these games. But you're a college student. You’ve got nothing to lose in these games. You need to go out and take the bull by the horns. This is just one of the many issues that this team has had this year.

On improving Miami’s use of the Portal: Baseball is a sport where development is not linear. You see a lot of guys in high school that haven't hit their stride physically compared to some other folks going to big Power Five schools. So they end up at a Group of 5 school, or perhaps it's a D2, D3, NAIA. There's good baseball played everywhere, and guys just develop at different times.

Look at Major League rosters. There's guys from all over the place. It’s not necessarily like football where it's really top heavy with the top programs. Baseball is spread out. There's junior college guys. Good baseball being played everywhere.

It’s about talent evaluation and acquisition. We've got to use the portal to our advantage. Miami's down this year, but there's the opportunity for Miami to come back really strong next year. Link Jarrett laid the foundation for a turnaround. Florida State is ranked top 10 in the Nation after being a bottom-tier ACC team last year. So there is a precedent set. There's a way to do it.

On the issues with the pitching staff: There's been such a focus on velocity and velocity training, even at the high school levels. There's been less importance given to guys who can actually pitch and maneuver the strike zone and know how to navigate and get outs with lesser stuff.

You watch a Major League game and the majority of guys are throwing 97 to 100 miles an hour. But there's the off chance that you see guys that are living at 92, 93, but know how to get outs. They move the ball in and out, up and down, and they can have success.

We've seen a long track record of guys come through Miami and become impact pitchers at the Major League level. Andy Suarez and Brian Garcia most recently. Andrew Walters is a guy who we keep close tabs on with the Cleveland Guardians. He’s probably gonna be up this year. Carson Palmquist has had tremendous success at Double-A with the Colorado Rockies. It’s about getting those guys in the building, developing them, and then having the ability to pitch and not necessarily just be high-velocity guys.

Andrew Walters learned how to pitch at 93, 94. He has a velocity jump. Now he's doing 97 to 99 MPH, and he's untouchable because he knows how to manipulate the ball, change eye levels, pitch inside and out, and has a good breaking ball. The order of operations needs to be earn how to pitch, learn how to command the strike zone and then have your velocity jump. We’re going in reverse where guys just want to throw really hard and have no idea where the ball's going. Then you walk into these arm injuries, or situations where there's no command of the strike zone.

We've seen a lot of that this year where there's just no understanding of how to get outs. There's 27 outs in a baseball game. You’ve got to pick and choose your spots to attack hitters and go after guys. We just haven't had a good sense of how to do that as a staff this year.
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Comments (1)

I definitely learned something today regarding pitching.
Losing these mid-week games has made this season what it is ...a sub .500 team.