Thursday, April 18, 2013

MIZZOU MATCHUP: Florida Gators

Head Coach: Kevin O’Sullivan 
(243-120 in 6th season as Florida Head Coach)

Taylor Stadium
Friday @ 6 PM CT
Saturday @ 2 PM CT
Sunday @ 12 PM CT

Missouri (12-20, 4-11 SEC) vs. Florida (20-18, 8-7 SEC)

This weekend the Tigers take on the Florida Gators, who have gotten on a roll lately. Last weekend they swept nationally ranked South Carolina, and with the win on Tuesday at Florida Gulf Coast, they have now won six games in a row. The Gators are 14-13 at home, and are tied in second in the SEC East standings.

Position Players
Although the Gators have been a solid club as of late, their bats are a definite weakness on their team. As I compile this lineup, I don’t remember an SEC foe that has hitters that have averages this low. They only have two guys hitting above .300, but they do have five players that have hit three homers.

Casey Turgeon and Richie Martin both see time as the leadoff man, but lately it has been more of Turgeon’s job. Turgeon’s OBP is at .356, which isn’t the highest it could be for a leadoff man, but adds some power with his three homers. The sophomore was named to Baseball America’s All-Freshman team in 2012 as a second-teamer.

Martin seems like the person who should not be in that leadoff role. His .318 OBP is not idea for somebody at the top of an order, but he does contribute speed. He has yet to be thrown out in three stolen base attempts. The thing that he does not have is Turgeon’s power. The freshman has only two extra base hits so far this year (both doubles), which keeps his slugging percentage under .300.

Catcher Taylor Gushue is improving on his 2012 freshman campaign, showing much more productivity at the plate. Last year, he was barely above the Mendoza Line, but now he is contributing with a modest .277 batting average. The thing that stands out about Gushue is his patience at the plate. He has drawn a team leading 19 walks which put his OBP at .380, and also leads the team in RBI with 22.

The team’s leading hitter so far is right fielder Justin Shafer. Hitting cleanup, Shafer is batting a team leading .322 which is made even more impressive by the fact that he leads the Gators in extra base hits with 17, five more than the next highest total on the team. He is one of four Florida players yet to miss a start this year, and is the only one of those to have only committed one error this year.

Senior first baseman Vickash Ramjit is the other Gator hitting over .300 this year, as his role in the lineup could be the most important, as the hitting really drops off after the five spot in the order. Ramjit is one of the guys with three homers this season, and he is right behind Gushue on the RBI total with 21. His speed has been a slight issue so far as he has been caught stealing on all three attempts that he has had.

Projected Lineup
2B Casey Turgeon (L) .268
CF Richie Martin (R) .272
C Taylor Gushue (S) .277
RF Justin Shafer (R) .322
1B Vickash Ramjit (R) .316
3B Josh Tobias (S) .233
RF Connor Mitchell (L) .189
LF Harrison Bader (R) .284
SS Cody Dent (L) .205

The Gator rotation is not as powerful as what the Tigers have seen in the SEC so far in 2013. They do not have a single pitcher who has more K than IP, which could bode well for the Tigers if they can put the ball into play. Jonathon Crawford has been the Friday starter this season for Florida, and he is trying to build off of his last outing, which was a win against South Carolina. In that game, he threw 6.2 IP, scattered 7 H, while striking out 5.

After Crawford, the rotation gets slightly shaky. It seems that lately it has been Danny Young getting the ball on Saturdays, and in his four starts this season, he has put up a solid 3.51 ERA, which striking out 17 in 25.2 IP. His batting average against is high though, and the Tigers will have to take advantage of this and be swinging the bats to not let the southpaw get into a groove.

Sunday has been slightly inconsistent with their starters as well, but Jay Carmichael was on the bump last week and while he only went 1.2 innings, he gave up 1 ER. He has to get out of trouble though as he did give up two hits and two walks.

Projected Pitching Matchups
Friday: RHP Rob Zastryzny (2-6, 3.67 ERA) vs. RHP Jonathon Crawford (2-5, 4.17 ERA)
Saturday: RHP Brett Graves (0-5, 5.24 ERA) vs. LHP Danny Young (1-3, 3.51 ERA)
Sunday: RHP Alec Rash (2-1, 4.57 ERA) vs. RHP Jay Carmichael (3-1, 2.60 ERA)

Matchup Wrap-up
If there were a weekend for the Missouri bats to have a breakthrough, this would be it. The Gators have been shaky at times with their pitching and the Tigers will have to take advantage of that. Mizzou’s starting three have really settled down over the past couple weeks and they definitely have to capability of shutting down this Florida lineup.

Other SEC games this weekend (all 4/19-21):
(3) LSU @ Alabama
Texas A&M @ (12) Arkansas
Auburn @ (16) Mississippi State
(2) Vanderbilt @ Georgia
(17) Kentucky @ (18) South Carolina
(21) Ole Miss @ Tennessee

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