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Wins over Oklahoma, Texas cap up-and-down week for Mizzou

Missouri baseball is getting a lot of help from its two best hitters, but can’t seem to find support for its best pitcher.

Twitter: @MizzouBaseball

Welcome to Three True Outcomes, where we’ll examine the past week in Mizzou Baseball through the lens of the three true outcomes — strikeouts, walks and home runs. How did the Tigers whiff, how did they take advantage of what was given to them and what did they knock out of the park?

Don’t you love the beginning of baseball season? Temperatures are rising, spring is in the air, optimism reigns free!

One of the benefits of baseball — and this is a subjective claim if you’re not a fan — is the sheer amount of games that you play. This may be a little less so in college baseball, where you only reach into the 50s as opposed to the 162-game slate of the MLB. But there’s almost always time for some sort of rejuvenation. Slow start? No problem. Fast start? Great! Keep it up!

Missouri’s 6-5 record after 11 games won’t inspire a ton of confidence to the passive bystander. The Tigers may have wins over Power 5 schools like Texas, No. 22 Oklahoma and Utah, but they’re still only 3-3 against non-Power 5 opponents. From the outside looking in, the Tigers appear pretty mediocre.

However, a closer look should inspire some extra confidence in Tiger fans. Missouri had a rough start to the past week, dropping two midweek games to Texas A&M Corpus Christi and McNeese State before heading to Texas for the Shriners College Classic. They dropped the opener to Baylor, but roared back to take down No. 22 Oklahoma in extra innings and hand Texas its second loss of the season.

That’s an encouraging end to the week, especially when you consider that Texas, unranked though they may be, had beaten No. 6 Arkansas the day before and nearly toppled No. 11 LSU on Friday.

As Missouri rests up in preparation for its first home series of the season, it’s time to go back through the last week of baseball and look at how they fared through the lens of the three true outcomes. For a more detailed explanation, take a look at last week’s Three True Outcomes post.

As usual, we’ll go in the order of strikeouts → walks → home runs.

Ian Bedell’s Run Support (or lack thereof)

Ian Bedell is the most celebrated player on Missouri’s roster, named to several preseason watch lists and could very likely be a Day One selection in this year’s MLB draft.

However, the Tigers are 1-2 in Bedell’s three starts this season, with Bedell sporting the same W-L record. Could the hype behind the dominant righty be overblown?

Not quite. Bedell hasn’t been lights out in his three starts, but he has done enough to win each game. He leads the team in innings pitched, strikeouts, and K:BB. The only real complaint you can muster is the 4 home runs he’s surrendered, but two of them came in his winning start against Jacksonville State in which he struck out 11 batters.

The real culprit is his run support.

Average runs in Ian Bedell starts: 4.3

Average runs in non-Ian Bedell starts: 6

That may not seem like a big jump, but consider that Missouri scored 10 runs in the Jacksonville State game while combining for 3 total runs against both Kansas State and Baylor. Bedell posted quality starts (at least 6 innings with 3 or fewer earned runs) against both.

The Tigers have already missed a few opportunities at good-looking wins with their best pitcher on the hill. It stands to reason that other teams are also throwing their best pitchers on Fridays, but the Tigers still need to take better advantage of Bedell’s starts.

Jumping out to early leads

The Missouri offense has been pretty stout in the first 11 games of the season, averaging 5.5 runs per game. It’s been a welcome development, especially with a pitching staff that ranks last in the SEC in ERA so far.

Notably, Missouri is doing most of its damage against other teams’ starters.

Runs in innings 1-6: 17

Runs in innings 7 and beyond: 6

In both of Missouri’s weekend wins, the Tigers jumped out ahead of Oklahoma and Texas before having to fend them off late. Of course, you’d always welcome more balance, but this is an encouraging development. You’d always rather be playing from ahead than behind, and Missouri has held a lead in 9 of 11 games so far. The next step is obviously extending leads and finishing games, but Missouri has used early momentum to its favor thus far.

The Zimmerman-Belk duo continues to rake

More of the same from last week — Steve Bieser appears to have two studs in his lineup.

After a week in which Peter Zimmerman hit .411 and Belk .588, here are their season lines.

Mizzou’s Rising Stars

Peter Zimmerman 0.349 0.462 0.581 2 4 25 9 15
Brandt Belk 0.5 0.583 0.737 2 3 28 22 16

Before we keep going, I’d like to acknowledge how insane of a start this is for these two. Belk’s OPS is currently 1.320 and Zimmerman’s minuscule strikeout rate make them two of the most valuable hitters in college baseball (I didn’t look up the rankings, I just assumed, sue me), and they’ve done it against all forms of competition. Did I mention they’ve both stolen 3 bases in 5 attempts?

There’s likely going to be some regression for both of these two, and that’s when Mizzou will need someone else to step up — none of the other regulars are hitting above .300. But for now, the dynamic duo of Zimmerman and Belk has been enough to carry the Tiger offense, and that’s worth some praise.