Thursday, February 21, 2013
MIZZOU MATCHUP: University of Memphis Tigers
(207-250 in 8 years at Memphis)
FedEx Park in Memphis, TN
Friday @ 4 PM CT
Saturday @ 2 PM CT
Sunday @ 1 PM CT
Missouri (0-3, 0-0 SEC) @ Memphis (1-3, 0-0 Conference USA)
Mizzou will try and right the ship early in the season against another Conference USA opponent in the Memphis Tigers. Memphis finished last year tied for third in their conference, going 31-28 and 16-13 at home.
The Tigers have a slightly different look this year as they only have five returning starters from last year. Players that they have lost include 3B Jacob Wilson, whose .320 BA and 17 HR earned him a 10th round selection by the St. Louis Cardinals and Player of the Year in Conference USA. Also, utility man Adam McClain graduated, leaving his senior season hitting .392. Lastly, their workhorse SP Dan Langfield left his 10.67 K/9, 2.79 ERA, and .208 BAA to sign with the Cincinnati Reds after they drafted him in the third round last June. All three players earned First Team All-Conference
With losing those key players comes youth. The Memphis Tigers have zero starting seniors in their lineup. C/1B/DH Carter White had a great start to the season, collecting 6 hits in his first four games. This is no fluke though, as he finished last season second in the conference in batting for players with more than 50 AB, hitting .358.
Second baseman Zach Willis is a run creator for the Tigers, as his 24 walks in 2012 boosted his OBP to a respectable .408. He will likely be the leadoff man for the Tigers, as he has had those duties in the team’s last three games, adding 2 SB so far this year.
One man that is looking to get things turned around early in the season is SS Ethan Gross. He has really struggled in Memphis’ first four contests, only getting one hit in his 16 ABs, striking out six times.
Going into the season, there was a bit of a question who Memphis’ starting third baseman was going to be, but junior Drew Griffin’s hot start has gotten him the nod in all four games so far. He started the year hitting .412 (7-for-17), adding 2 doubles, and a team leading 3 RBIs.
Without sugarcoating it at all, the Memphis outfield has been a mess so far in 2013. They have had six starting outfielders so far, CF Ford Wilson being the only consistent one starting all four games, has been inconsistent at the plate only getting one hit in 13 ABs. They haven’t had the same starting left fielder twice yet, with time being split between Austin Hatfield (1-for-4), Jake Little (1-for-5), Zac Carter (0-for-2), and Bryce Beeler, who will probably emerge as a starter in one of the two corner outfield spots as he started hot hitting .400.
2B Zach Willis .287
DH Carter White .429
1B Tucker Tubbs .273
3B Drew Griffin .412
RF Bryce Beeler .400
C Keaton Aldridge .250
SS Ethan Gross .063
CF Ford Wilson .077
LF Jake Little .200
Assuming Memphis goes with the same three weekend starters they did against Illinois State, Sam Moll will get the nod on Friday. Moll struggled in the season opener, giving up 3 ER in 4 IP. While he did rack up 7 Ks, he did allow 4 walks and had to be pulled in the 5th inning after he let the first three batters of the inning reach base.
Saturday starter Erik Schoenrock was looking great through five innings last weekend but only recorded one out in the sixth, surrendering 3 ER before he was pulled. Of the 16 outs he recorded, 10 were via the strikeout. The concern for the lefty during that start was efficiency, as he threw 98 pitches in only 5.1 innings.
Although he only pitched 3 innings on Sunday, southpaw Alex Gunn shined in his Tiger debut. Giving up only one hit and no walks, he struck out one throwing a very efficient 41 pitches.
On Sunday the Tigers saw another pitcher dominate in his debut. Junior transfer John Reed threw 5 innings, giving up 2 runs on 2 hits, striking out 5, and walking none.
Friday: Rob Zastrynzny (0-1, 5.06 ERA) vs. Sam Moll (0-1, 6.75 ERA)
Saturday: Brett Graves (0-0, 1.80 ERA) vs. Erik Schoenrock (0-0, 5.06 ERA)
Sunday: Jace James (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Alex Gunn (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Missouri will have to jump on this Memphis pitching staff early in the count, as their starters racked up 19 K’s in only 12.1 IP over the weekend. Missouri batters will find it hard to win games if they let the Memphis pitchers get ahead in the count, maybe with the exception of Moll, who showed slight control issues. The matchup I look forward to most is James vs. Gunn. Both did not give up an earned run in their debuts in D-I baseball, and I assume they will be allowed to go a bit deeper into the game this Sunday.
Other SEC games this weekend:
Alabama @ Florida Atlantic 2/22-24
Evansville @ 3 Arkansas 2/22-24
Florida Gulf Coast @ 17 Florida 2/22-24
Belmont @ Georgia 2/22-24
Rhode Island @ 8 Ole Miss 2/22-24
Albany @ 7 South Carolina 2/22-24
Arizona State @ Tennessee 2/22-24
Pepperdine @ Texas A&M 2/22-24
Monmouth @ 2 Vanderbilt 2/22-24
Auburn vs. Middle Tennessee State 2/22
Auburn vs. College of Charlston 2/23
Auburn vs. Indiana State 2/24
Caravelle Resort Baseball at the Beach in Myrtle Beach, SC
11 Kentucky vs. Kansas State 2/21
11 Kentucky vs. Elon 2/22
11 Kentucky vs. Coastal Carolina 2/23
9 LSU vs. BYU 2/21, 23
9 LSU vs. SE Louisiana 2/22
Diamond Classic in Starkville, MS
5 Mississippi State vs. Purdue 2/22-23
5 Mississippi State vs. Samford 2/23-24
Rankings from Baseball America