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Weekend Series Preview: Mississippi State

Mizzou will face their second top-5 opponent in the last two weeks this weekend as they look for positives with the season winding down

via Twitter: @HailStateBSB

Trailing Auburn and A&M for the final SEC tournament spot, the Tigers are desperate to make something out of their series against No. 3 Mississippi State (35-11, 16-8) in Starkville.

Hitting

via Twitter: @HailStateBSB

For the Mississippi State Bulldogs, the offense quite literally begins with the potent 1-2 punch atop their lineup, CF Rowdey Jordan and RF Tanner Allen. The duo are the two best hitters in the Bulldog lineup and oftentimes will do damage to opponents early.

Jordan leads off for the Dogs and is more than just your typical lead-off hitter. On the season he has hit 9 HR and has 23 total XBH. Currently, he is slashing .318/.433/.572 and can even steal bases, having swiped 7 bags this year. However, for all that’s made of his ability to punish the baseball, Jordan is also phenomenal at getting on base. He’s tallied 24 walks this year and has 14 HBP. If you combine the two stats, that means almost once a game Jordan finds a way other than hitting to get on base. If you get that from your leadoff guy, you can almost always bet the guys behind will drive him in. However, Jordan is most definitely the sidekick of the duo atop Mississippi State’s lineup. The man who follows him is even more dangerous.

Tanner Allen steps up to the plate for the Bulldogs next, and boy can this kid hit. In 2021, he is slashing .379/.463/.621 with 8 HR and that doesn’t even do justice to the caliber of player this guy is. Currently, his stats put him in the top-10 of the SEC in the following categories: AVG, OBP, SLG%, RBI, H, R, and TB. In translation, he is in discussion for the most complete hitter in the conference. But not only can Allen hit, but he can also play defense, too. This year he has played error-free defense in RF and also has 5 outfield assists to his name.

While the dynamic duo atop Mississippi State’s lineup, the middle is deep as well. Guys like Logan Tanner, Kamren James, and Luke Hancock all have more than 8 HR and hit in the 3-4-5 spots.

The Mississippi State offense can really hit, and it’s almost guaranteed to be on display this weekend. Here’s what the rest of the Bulldog lineup looks like this year:

via hailstate.com

Pitching

via Twitter: @HailStateBSB

The Mississippi State pitching staff is third the SEC in ERA and has some phenomenal arms. However, unlike a lot of SEC teams, the strength of this Bulldog team is actually their bullpen. With that being said, the arms that do most of the pitching are indeed the weekend starters so let’s take a look at what the Tigers can expect.

On Friday, the Bulldogs will turn to Christian MacLeod. In 56 IP this year, MacLeod has a 3.05 ERA and 79 K. The only starts where he’s given up more than 2 ER this year have been against the top two teams in the country, Arkansas and Vanderbilt, so his ERA could be a little deceptively high considering the quality of competition he has had to face. Against the Tigers, he is likely to thrive given the suboptimal quality of the Tigers hitters. If there is one flaw in MacLeod’s game, it’s his ability to go deep into games. Just three times this year has Macleod gone more than 5 innings, but that isn’t always because of a lack of stamina. While in some of his starts, he has been roughed up, but a lot of the time, the Bulldogs are quick to go to their bullpen because of its depth.

On Saturday, Will Bednar will get the ball. In just his first full season of college baseball, Bednar is quickly making a name for himself in the SEC. With a 3.31 ERA in 49 IP, Bednar has been making the learning curve that most experience in the SEC look easy. He has 80 strikeouts in just 49 IP, which equates to an unreal 14.7 K/9 from a starting pitcher. Like his Friday night counterpart MacLeod, Bednar also doesn't go deep in games, but again, a lot of that has to do with the strength of the bullpen.

Sunday will be a bullpen game for the Bulldogs. They haven’t announced a starter, and the Bulldog bullpen is likely be fully showcased. The depth of the bullpen is absolutely unreal, too. With seven guys that regularly pitch out the bullpen that have an ERA under 3.00, the Mississippi State bullpen has a wealth of talent in their backend. A couple of big arms to watch out for are Landon Simms, Houston Harding, and Parker Stinnet; each has pitched in 14 or more games and dominated almost every time they took the hill.

Wrap Up

Mississippi State is going to probably host a super-regional and is undisputedly one of the best teams in the country. The Tigers have little to no hope of winning a game this series, and if they don’t, they’ll be all but out of the SEC tournament picture if A&M also wins a game. It’s been a very rough season for the Tigers, but maybe just getting through this series and finishing off this season is what’s best for the program as they try to return to the typical standard of Tiger baseball.

Game Schedule:

Friday | 6:30 pm | ESPNU

Saturday | 3 pm | SEC Network +

Sunday | 1 pm | SEC Network +