Thursday, April 11, 2013

MIZZOU MATCHUP: No. 2 Vanderbilt Commodores

Head Coach: Tim Corbin (441-221 in 11th season as Vanderbilt Head Coach)

Hawkins Field – Nashville, TN
Friday @ 6:30 PM CT
Saturday @ 4 PM CT – ESPNU
Sunday @ 1 PM CT

Missouri (12-17, 4-8 SEC) vs. (2) Vanderbilt (30-4, 11-1 SEC)

The Tigers will travel to Nashville to take on the No. 2 Vanderbilt Commodores this weekend. Vandy has won 11 games in a row to improve their record to 30-4, which is largely helped by their 21-2 home record.

Position Players
Vanderbilt comes into play boasting a very consistent lineup, having six players missing one or less games. One of those players is 2013 Louisville Slugger Preseason All-American Tony Kemp. The junior comes into play this weekend leading the team with a .388 average, 35 runs, .494 on base, and 16 stolen bases. Although he has those 16 bags, he is not afraid to get thrown out, as he is accountable for 9 of the teams 19 times caught stealing. He currently owns an 11-game hitting streak.

Hitting behind Kemp is third baseman Xavier Turner. The versatile freshman has been the king of singles so far this season, as only 2 of his 27 hits have gone for extra bases. One thing the Tigers can rely on is that Turner will put the ball into play. He has only struck out 8 times this year, less than one every 10 at bats.

A good amount of power in the Commodore lineup comes from cleanup hitter Connor Harrell. Harrell has blasted a team leading five dingers, giving him 42 RBI, which is second in the SEC. One downside that will come with many power hitters that is no different with Harrell is striking out. While striking out 31 times in 34 games isn’t an alarmingly high amount, he does spend a good amount of time walking back to the dugout.

Grandson of Boston Red Sox Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski, Mike Yastrzemski decided to come back to school for his senior season after being drafted in last year’s MLB draft. The left-handed outfielder is hitting .314, and has power. 13 of his 38 hits have come for extra bases, and he has yet to ground into a double play all season.

Projected Lineup
2B Tony Kemp .388
3B Xavier Turner .321
1B Conrad Gregor .263
CF Connor Harrell .293
RF Mike Yastrzemski .314
SS Vince Conde .305
DH Kyle Smith .278
C Spencer Navin .308
LF Jack Lupo .266

The three starters that the Tigers will face this weekend have a combined record of 16-1, and will look to improve on that this weekend. Friday starter Kevin Ziomek leads the trio in strikeouts with 65 in his 59.2 innings of work. With a batting average against of .153, he has done a great job keeping opponents off the bases all year. Last weekend against Ole Miss he went 7.1, giving up only one earned.

Saturday will feature Tyler Beede, who has the best ERA (1.05) of the starters Mizzou will face this weekend. He and Ziomek are very similar in the rate they let baserunners on, but Beede can be wild at times. He has walked 36 batters so far this season.

Phillip Pfeifer will get the ball on Sunday, and even though his ERA (4.10) is higher than his two teammates, he has still yet to lose a decision. He has been touched up a bit in his past couple outings, and hasn’t thrown five full innings in a start in over a month.

Closer Brian Miller has been absolutely lights out, giving up only 3 ER in his 33.1 innings of work this year. He is currently tied for fourth in the nation in saves with 10.

Projected Pitching Matchups
RHP Rob Zastryzny (2-5, 2.88 ERA) vs. LHP Kevin Ziomek (6-1, 1.81 ERA)
RHP Brett Graves (0-4, 3.79 ERA) vs. RHP Tyler Beede (8-0, 1.05 ERA)
RHP Alec Rash (2-1, 3.43 ERA) vs. LHP Phillip Pfeifer (2-0, 4.10 ERA)

Matchup Wrap-up
Missouri pitching will have to keep a close eye on Commodore base runners all weekend. Anybody in their lineup can swipe a bag at any time and they do it effectively. They lead the SEC with 80 stolen bases, and have only been caught 19 times. In the field, they have made less errors than they have games. This Commodore team simply does not make many mistakes at all, which is why they are the #2 team in the country. This will be the toughest test of the year for the Tigers, which is a scary thought since they haven’t handled their other SEC tests well in 2013.

Other SEC games this weekend (all 4/12-14):
Alabama @ (23) Ole Miss
(3) LSU @ (10) Arkansas
Georgia @ Auburn
(11) South Carolina @ Florida
Tennessee @ (13) Kentucky
(21) Mississippi State @ Texas A&M

Rankings from Baseball America

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