Thursday, March 28, 2013
MIZZOU MATCHUP: Louisiana State Tigers
(277-124-2 in 7th season as LSU Head Coach)
Taylor Stadium – Columbia, MO
Friday @ 6 PM CT
Saturday @ 1 PM CT (SPSO TV)
Sunday @ 1 PM CT
LSU (23-2, 5-1 SEC) @ Missouri (9-12, 2-4 SEC)
Missouri’s tough conference schedule continues with LSU, who have been in Baseball America’s Top 25 ever since the first week of the season. This will be only the second time they will be on the road for a series this season, after they opened their SEC schedule taking two of three from Mississippi State two weekends ago and then swept Auburn last weekend.
Leading off for LSU is Baseball America’s First Team Preseason All-American JaCoby Jones, who has failed to live up to his expectation this year, as he has an average hovering around .250 to start the year.
The man who has set up the middle of the order recently for LSU has been right fielder Mark Laird. Laird is one of the five regular Tiger starters that are hitting well above .300, the other four following him directly in the lineup.
Shortstop Alex Bergman leads LSU in average so far, and is a well-rounded player. Bergman is the jack of all trades offensively, as he hits for average, power, and has yet to be caught stealing. He was named the SEC Player of the Week after going .632 (12-for-19) in the Tigers’ four wins last week with two doubles, three RBI and six runs scored.
The most decorated Tiger is cleanup hitter Raph Rhymes. He earned SEC Player of the Year honors in 2012, as well as a spot on Baseball America’s Third Team All-American Team. While his play this year has been stellar, the man that comes after his is making a SEC Player of the Year run himself.
First baseman Mason Katz has dominated pitching during 2013. He has almost half the amount of homers as he does games played, leads the team in RBI and SLG, and is one of the top hitters for average in this intimidating LSU lineup. It seems that there is almost never a time when he is up to bat that there is not somebody on base for him.
Projected Lineup (stats as of 3/27)
2B JaCoby Jones (R) .202
RF Mark Laird (L) .359
SS Alex Bregman (R) .443
LF Raph Rhymes (R) .354
1B Mason Katz (R) .396
3B Christian Ibarra (R) .342
DH Tyler Moore (L) .275
C Ty Ross (R) .203
CF Andrew Stevenson (L) .241
The three LSU weekend starters have been nothing short of dominant in 2013. Ryan Eades and Aaron Nola both have more strikeouts than innings pitched, Sunday starter Cody Glenn pitches more to contact, but does not walk very many, much like the other two.
Projected Matchups (stats as of 3/21)
LHP Rob Zastryzny (1-3, 4.05 ERA) vs. RHP Aaron Nola (3-0, 3.29 ERA)
RHP Brett Graves (0-2, 2.45 ERA) vs. RHP Ryan Eades (5-0, 1.63 ERA)
RHP Alec Rash (2-1, 0.53 ERA) vs. LHP Cody Glenn (4-1, 2.27 ERA)
Just like with South Carolina, Mizzou will have to be solid on every aspect of the game if they want to take at least a game against 4th ranked LSU. They are one of the top teams in the nation so far in 2013, and the middle of their lineup shows why. Strong outings from Mizzou starters will be a necessity or the heart of the order will make them pay.
Other SEC games this weekend:
Alabama @ Auburn
(25) Mississippi State @ (15) Arkansas
(11) Ole Miss @ Florida
Georgia @ (8) Kentucky
Texas A&M @(17) South Carolina
Tennessee @ (3) Vanderbilt
Rankings from Baseball America