FSU baseball: 3 things I'm looking for against the Jacksonville Dolphins

2019 Florida State Baseball Season
2019 Florida State Baseball Season / Don Juan Moore/GettyImages

FSU baseball (2-0) got off to a great start in its 2024 season series opener against the Butler Bulldogs. The Noles swept the Bulldogs easily and turned their attention to the Jacksonville Dolphins Tuesday evening. The Dolphins took two games from the Cincinnati Bearcats over the weekend, and have played the Noles tough over the past few seasons, especially on their field. Conner Whittaker will get the start for the Noles after his scheduled start against Butler got canceled due to rain. Jacksonville is a much better squad than Butler, finishing 34-24 last season(Butler only had 12 wins) and projected to win the ASUN Conference. Here are three things I'm looking for against Jacksonville:

Better Defense 

FSU committed three errors in the two-game series against Butler. It's an area of emphasis I've noted in the preseason that needs to improve. Granted, two of those three errors were from a freshman outfielder and a pitcher. However, it all adds up, and you can't afford to provide good teams with extra outs. FSU was dead last in fielding percentage in the ACC last year, and they are not off to a great start through two games.

Bullpen Efficiency

Conner Whittaker will likely be on a pitch count in his first start as they continue to build endurance with their starters. I wouldn't expect more than 4-5 innings, so we'll get an opportunity to see more from the bullpen. A couple of veteran guys struggled to throw strikes in the second game against Butler. The bullpen cost FSU several wins in 2023, not holding leads late in games with bad situational baseball. I expect Whittaker to throw strikes and allow the defense to make plays. I need the bullpen to avoid walking guys and getting behind in counts. The earlier guys emerge for roles in the bullpen, the better. 

Good At-Bats

The FSU offense had its way against Butler but will likely face better arms Tuesday night. Richard Long will start for Jacksonville and had a 5.71 ERA last year. He had 55 strikeouts in 69.1 innings last season, and so he won't blow guys away. He had 32 walks and allowed seven home runs. His weekend start got postponed, so this is his first appearance this season. I would expect to see him on a pitch count also. I want to see FSU batters show patience at the plate, but jump on first-pitch fastballs. I want to see them avoid swinging at pitches out of the strike zone, and honing in on fastballs in hitter counts. Too many times over the years, we've watched FSU batters miss or foul off a fastball right down the middle in a hitter count. They must consistently make pitchers pay when they groove a pitch in the zone. 

The first pitch will be at 6 p.m. The game will air on ESPN+. FSU baseball fans can stream it on the ESPN app or listen to it here

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