Monday, April 1, 2013

MIZZOU MATCHUP: Illinois Fighting Illini

Head Coach: Dan Hartleb
(226-186 in 8th season as Illinois Head Coach)

Busch Stadium – St. Louis, MO
Tuesday @ 6:30 PM CT

Illinois (17-7, 2-1 Big 10) vs. Missouri (9-15, 2-7 SEC)

Mizzou will meet rival Illinois on the big stage at Busch Stadium. Illinois has been a very solid ball club so far going 17-7, and are perfect in neutral location games with a 6-0 mark.

Position Players
A pair of twins has held down the middle of the order for the Illini this season, the only thing separating them being the sides of the plate they hit from. It has become a normal occurrence that Justin Parr, who leads the team with a .404 batting average, gets hit in by his brother Jordan, who is tied for the team lead in homeruns (4). On a side note, these two also have an older brother Josh, who is currently in the Arizona Diamondback’s minor league system.

Just before those two in the order is DH Michael Hurwitz. The switch-hitter is hitting .329, and combined with leadoff man Will Krug (.318), these two are perfect at the top of the order to start a big inning.

The leader in stolen bases for the Illini comes from the 5-spot in the order in David Kerian. He has yet to be caught this season, swiping 12 bags. This lineup is confusing to me, since the person with the higher OBP and more stolen bases is batting fifth when the leadoff man does not show the same numbers. I could see improvement if Kerian was moved up to the leadoff spot, switching spots with Krug. But that’s why I’m the one writing about the players, not coaching them.

Projected Lineup
RF Will Krug (R) .318
DH Michael Hurwitz (S) .329
CF Justin Parr (L) .404
LF Jordan Parr (R) .287
1B David Kerian (S) .382
SS Thomas Lindauer (R) .280
3B Brandon Hohl (R) .299
2B Reid Roper (L) .283
C Kelly Norris-Jones (R) .107

It looks as though southpaw Kevin Duchene will take mound for Illinois. The freshman has yet to lose a decision in his four starts this season, winning three. He pitches to contact, which makes his only six extra base hits against (all doubles) seem that more impressive. One thing you won’t see Duchene do regularly is cruise through innings setting down hitter after hitter. His batting average against is at a steep .314, so keeping those extra base hits down is key to his success.

Projected Matchup
RHP Griffin Goodrich (2-0, 4.91 ERA) vs. LHP Kevin Duchene (3-0, 3.76 ERA)

Matchup Wrap-up
A big key for the Tigers is to keep Illinois off the bases. They are the best baserunning team Mizzou has faced so far this year, stealing 54 bags in 61 attempts. Their order 1-9 has speed, and any one of them can take a bag at any time. Also, if Tiger hitters can string a couple of hits together, a big extra base hit or two may be all they need to put up some big numbers offensively against Duchene.

Other SEC games this week:
Southeastern Louisiana @ Alabama 4/2
Wofford @ Auburn 4/3
UCF @ Florida 4/2
Georgia @ Kennesaw State 4/2
Kentucky @ Louisville 4/2
Alcorn State @ LSU 4/2
Southern Mississippi @ LSU 4/3
Ole Miss @ Memphis 4/2
Mississippi State @ South Alabama 4/2
Charleston Southern @ South Carolina 4/2
South Carolina @ Furman 4/3
Longwood @ Tennessee 4/2
UTSA @ Texas A&M 4/2
Middle Tennessee State @ Vanderbilt 4/2
Idle: Arkansas

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