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ACC Midterm Grades: Louisville

Photo Credit: @LouisvilleBSB on X


It is past the halfway mark in the ACC conference slate which means it's time for midterm grades to go out on all 14 ACC teams. Next up is the Louisville Cardinals.


Louisville currently sit at 21-15 and 7-8 in ACC play. The Cardinals have to be considered a dangerous dark horse team if they make it to Charlotte for the ACC Tournament. Louisville has only won one ACC series, but they have avoided getting swept and themselves boast a sweep over a Top 25 team in NC State. The most shocking and possibly dooming stat for Louisville lies in their RPI of 90 (as of April 18th).


The Cards' remaining ACC schedule is quite favorable, considering the first half of the season consisted of NC State, Virginia, Wake Forest, Florida State, and Virginia Tech (who are all currently locks for the NCAA tournament). The remaining schedule for Louisville will be challenging enough to help that RPI, but difficult enough to where if this team doesn’t take a couple of needed steps forward that they could miss out on postseason play entirely.

 

Offense: A-

If there is one thing about Louisville, it's that this team can hit. The Cards are in the Top 5 of the ACC for average, doubles, RBIs, slugging, and HBP. They also lead the ACC with 82 stolen bases. This Louisville lineup from top to bottom is one of the best in the conference and continues to keep them in games when the pitching has struggled.


12 players that have at least 50 plate appearances for Louisville are hitting .300+. CBC Midseason All-Star Shortstop Gavin Klein leads this Cardinal lineup with a .370 average and 50 total hits. Isaac Humphrey, Luke Napleton, and Ryan McCoy have been really fun to watch and I really enjoyed seeing their ability to attack pitches this past weekend in person. Designated hitter Zion Rose has been an incredible addition to this lineup, as the freshman has three home runs and is hitting .358 on the year. There isn’t an easy out in the lineup. The most difficult issue with this team has been the ability to get consistent at-bats, as the lineup, especially early in the year, was changing drastically on a game by game basis.

 

Rotation: C+

While this stat factors in both the bullpen and rotation, Louisville sits 10th in team ERA in the ACC. That number drops to the worst ERA if only accounting for conference play. Against ACC opponents, the Louisville pitching staff has a 7.67 ERA which is big reason Louisville currently sits outside the Field of 64 projections. Sebastian Gongora and Evan Webster are really quality starters and arguably one of the better one-two punches in the conference. The problem is that 3rd starter for Louisville has been less than stellar. My preseason ACC Pitcher of the Year pick Carson Liggett has struggled and Patrick Forbes, a projected rotation arm, has been out with injury. If Louisville can figure out their Game 3 starter, this team could be quite dangerous in the second half of the season.  

 

Bullpen: D+

Let us start off with some positives about this Louisville bullpen. CBC Midseason All-Star Tucker Biven has been, in my eyes, the best backend guy in the ACC. When he enters the game, it seems to be game over for opposing hitters. We saw Dan McDonnell go to him in a spot where Virginia was getting good at-bats on Saturday in order to preserve a significant lead for the Cards. Jared Lessman and Ty Starke have also been guys this team has been able to rely on out of the 'pen. The two of them have combined for 24 appearances and 24 strikeouts and have ERAs below 3.50 in establishing themselves as staples in this Louisville bullpen.


The other arm to touch on is Kayden Campbell who has been a little inconsistent, but can be a key piece in a big second half for the Cards. He has 13 appearances this season, but has only gone 11 innings. He is averaging 9 strikeouts per 9 and is my prediction to be the most improved pitcher when we do these report cards at the end of the season.


Now, to the negative. The rest of this bullpen has been shaky at best. We have seen some decent outings from Riley Phillips, Will Koger, and Dan Snyder that makes you believe this bullpen will be much better in the second half. However, we have also seen them and a couple of other bullpen arms really struggle, especially against teams who feature lineups, as deep as the one they see in practice every day (Virginia, Wake Forest, and Florida State). If Louisville is to make a push to the NCAA tournament this will need to be the biggest area of improvement.

 

Overall: C+

Louisville can hit with any team in the country. They feature two starters I would hate to have to face in the postseason and a coach who knows how to win games. One category that isn’t graded on here where Louisville has been quite bad at is their defense. The Cards lead the ACC in errors with 47 and have the worst fielding percentage in the conference. This has improved a bit as they have gotten into conference play, but this must improve even more in order to make a run for a tournament berth. The combination of a lack of a “Sunday” guy, reliable bullpen arms, and defensive mistakes is why this Louisville team only gets a passing grade but does not get to be an midterm honor roll member. That being said, I will make the prediction now. This Louisville team will be in the Field of 64 when the season ends. Bookmark it now.

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