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Midweek Baseball Preview: Kansas

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The Border War rivalry will be renewed for the first time on the diamond since the 2012 Big 12 Semi-final game

Twitter: @MizzouBaseball

For the first time in nearly a decade, the Tigers will square off against their most bitter rivals. The last time Kansas (14-8, 1-2) and Mizzou met, the Tigers beat the Jayhawks in the semifinals of the conference tournament on their way to winning an eventual Big 12 Championship, but even with lowered stakes, there’s always a little extra on the line when the Tigers and Jayhawks battle it out.

Hitting

Twitter: @KUbaseball

As a whole, the Kansas hitters aren’t terribly imposing, but they do have one man who stands above the rest in their lineup. Junior shortstop Skyler Messinger is currently 8th in the Big 12 in batting average and is having himself a field day at the plate this year. He may not hit many home runs — he has just 2 bombs on the year — but he does his damage by driving the ball gap-to-gap. Currently, the junior is slashing .364/.456/.545 and has 17 RBI.

After Messinger, the next best bat in the Jayhawk lineup is Nolan Metcalf. He leads Kansas in both HR and RBI and will hit in the middle of the lineup for this KU team. After Metcalf, there’s plenty of role players that have contributed to the Jayhawk offense such as freshman Maui Ahuna, but there haven’t been many other consistent standouts.

Lukas Veinbergs will likely be the Mizzou starter for this game, and against this Kansas lineup, he should be very capable of providing a quality start for the Tigers.

Here’s what the KU lineup’s stats look like:

via kuathletics.com

Pitching

Twitter: @KUbaseball

Kansas pitching has been a strength for this team, especially with Friday night starter Cole Larsen, who’s ERA currently sits at a stunning 0.86. However, the Tigers will not have to see Larsen due to this is being a single midweek game.

What makes this game interesting is that it will be KU’s first midweek game of the season, so who their starter will be is up in the air somewhat. They do have a couple of options that the Tigers need to be ready for. The Jayhawks could bullpen the game using a variety of arms, or they could send Everhett Hazelwood out on the bump. Hazelwood has started 4 prior games this year for Kansas, but he has struggled with a 7.32 ERA.

The most likely option is the Jayhawks will turn to is starting Hazelwood on a short leash. In his last start he went 5 strong innings, giving up just 1 ER, but in other games this year, he has been hit hard. After Hazelwood, guys like Jonah Ulane and Daniel Hegarty have been the most reliable bullpen arms for KU, but in a midweek game, their availability will be uncertain.

Wrap Up

This game provides a great chance for the Tigers to get back on the right track before Texas A&M this weekend. Kansas and Mizzou have multiple common opponents, and the results have been somewhat similar so this game should shape up to be fairly evenly matched despite KU’s much better record. If Lukas Veinbergs can continue his strong midweek form and the Tiger bats can come alive, the Tigers should be more than able to take this game off their most hated rival.

Gametime:

Tuesday | 3pm | ESPN+