Taylor Stadium – Columbia, MO
Friday @ 6 PM CT
Saturday @ 2 PM CT
Sunday @ 1 PM CT
Missouri (13-23, 5-13 SEC) vs. Auburn (24-16, 6-12 SEC)
Mizzou will try to stay out of last place in the Eastern Division of the SEC, as they try to protect their one game lead over Georgia against non-division opponent Auburn. The Auburn Tigers spend last weekend at Mississippi State, dropping two of three to the 16 ranked Bulldogs. Auburn comes into Columbia this weekend with a 24-16 record, 6-12 in the SEC, and 5-7 while on the road.
The right handed heavy Auburn lineup is one of the more consistent ones I have analyzed so far this year. They have shown flashes of power all through the lineup, as it seems most of them have the potential to put one over the wall at any time.
All of their speed comes from the top of the order from centerfielder Ryan Tella. Tella has swiped 12 bags this season, while only being caught once. The speed in center is paired with a reliable glove, only having committed a single error this year. He is also a reliable bat at the top, heading a quartet of Auburn hitters that are near or above hitting .300 on the season.
Their batting leader comes from the three spot in the lineup with left fielder Cullen Wacker. His 29 RBIs is one off the team lead, and he is also second on the team with a .474 slugging percentage. The man who leads in those two categories comes after him in the lineup.
First baseman Garrett Cooper has been the team’s most productive hitter throughout most of the season. Playing in all of Auburn’s 40 games this season, he leads the team with a .507 SLG, 4 HR, 30 RBI, and is one of the five players on the roster that are in the double digits in doubles.
The lineup below there shows spontaneous bursts of power, as the 6-8 hitters have combined for a modest six homers this season, three from third baseman Damek Tomscha. Batting averages from there also drop to the mid to low .200s, with guys that strike out at an alarming rate.
CF Ryan Tella (L) .308
2B Jordan Ebert (R) .293
LF Cullen Wacker (L) .336
1B Garrett Cooper (R) .328
DH Patrick Savage (R) .261
C Blake Austin (R) .276
3B Damek Tomscha (R) .250
RF Hunter Kelley (R) .265
SS Mitchell Self (R) .182
The Auburn rotation consists of three lefties, two of which have seen great success this year. Conner Kendrick and Michael O’Neal both have very low ERAs, Kendrick being recently promoted to Friday starter. He has only had four starts this year, but since he has assumed that role, his ERA has stayed low. Averaging about a strikeout an inning, he leads the team in that category (48). Saturday the Tigers will see Michael O’Neal, who has been a starter since the beginning of the season. More of a guy that pitches to contact, he has only struck out 27 hitters in 2013, but holds a very effective .226 BAA. With only walking 16 batters in 63.1 innings, the Tigers will have to come out swinging.
Projected Pitching Matchups
RHP Rob Zastryzny (2-7, 4.22 ERA) vs. LHP Conner Kendrick (2-2, 2.09 ERA)
RHP Brett Graves (0-5, 4.86 ERA) vs. LHP Michael O’Neal (8-2, 2.13 ERA)
RHP Alec Rash (2-1, 4.01 ERA) vs. LHP Will Kendall (0-5, 8.35 ERA)
Missouri hitters will have to take different approaches to the plate between Friday and Saturday. On Friday, attacking Kendrick early in the count will do them well, as he has a high strikeout ratio. Exactly the opposite for Saturday; if Mizzou can work counts and look for a pitch to hit, they can try and get to O’Neal. He will stay around the strike zone all day, and Missouri will have to take advantage of mistakes O’Neal makes, which could be very few.
Other SEC games this weekend (all 4/26-28):
Texas A&M @ Alabama
(14) Arkansas @ Georgia
Tennessee @ Florida
Kentucky @ (18) Ole Miss
(15) South Carolina @ (2) LSU
(16) Mississippi State @ (3) Vanderbilt