Scholars agree that a writer's credibility is heightened by citing expert opinion. As such, I begin with this:
Insofar as they are recognizable, this year's Missourah team is pretty much exactly like their past iterations. They have legit arms on the mound... and pretty much nothing but milquetoast at the plate. After being swept by the Florida Jorts-Men, Missourah sits at 14-9 on the year, with no impressive wins, and a series loss to Youngstown State.
Stat to Watch:
Vanderbilt is 10-0 against this particular Big XII team since they started playing them regularly during SEC play for some reason.
On The Mound
Friday, March 25 6pm CT SECN+
RHP Jordan "Top Sheff" Sheffield (3-1, 0.88) vs. RHP Reggie "Die Hard" McClain (3-0, 1.11)
Saturday, March 26 5pm CT SECN
TBA vs. RHP Tanner "Medieval Leatherman" Houck (2-2, 2.65)
Sunday, March 27 12pm CT SECN
TBA vs. LHP Austin "Fedora" Tribby (2-2, 4.40)
First of all, Sheff v. McClain is a legit Ace v. Ace battle. This game is impossible to project because of that. First team to score wins.
Second, I know I have engaged in wanton speculation regarding our TBA rotation following Sheffield all year, so I won't do that now. No, of course I will. You ought to know that by now. With Joey "Son of" Abraham getting the mid-week start, it is exceedingly tough not to read into that that Corbs is contemplating moving Patrick "Mad Dog" Raby into the weekend rotation. I say do it. Wright is fully healthy and Bowden is more effective in short bursts (closer's role, anyone???). If we see Wright out there Saturday, I think it's safe to expect Raby on Sunday. Here's hoping.
Who To Watch For:
Obviously, Missourah is the McClain and Houck show, and Vandy will have to be patient at the plate and pounce on mistake pitches to be successful. The big righties can bring the heat, and are seasoned veterans. Our recent defensive (pretty sure there were eleventy billion defensive errors against Empty SU) woes must stop, as the first two contests look to be close games.
On the offensive side, Missourah has been doing more at the plate than they have in the past (with the normal caveat that only 3 of their games have been against actual teams). Their best overall player the past two years has been Ryan "Not that Ryan Howard" Howard. The junior SS is a solid defensive player, and has the most clutch bat of the Tigers. That said, he's off to a relatively slow start this season, with only the 5th best batting average on the team. Still, he's the one capable of inflicting the most damage at the plate, and his .277/.355/.436 numbers are not exactly terrible. He's also gone yard thrice and swiped 6 out of 7 bags. He's not exactly someone you pitch around, but no one on MIssourah is. He's our player to watch.
As for the best hitter to date, that's Jr. OF Jack "Cock" Ring. Cock Ring is batting .345/.456/.512 with 5 2Bs, 3 3Bs, and 1 HR. He's also swiped 13/15 bags this year, so expect us to throw over a bunch if he gets on.
Who Should Start in LF?
It's probably becoming old news to you by now, but obviously, I do not believe this should be Ro Coleman's position to lose. Regardless, left field has been a gaping black hole of suck the past few games, with our collective LFs going 0-23 at the plate. Just plug in Walker Grisanti and forget about it, already! I'm done talking about this, as my blood pressure is already rising.
See you in the comments, and here's to hoping Missourah, like many a potato sack shaped midwestern girl before her, can be our slump buster.