There’s a lot whole lot to play for between Missouri and Auburn this weekend, and both teams are well aware of the series’ implications— win or end your season prematurely. Because of this, it should shape up to be a great battle of the Tigers.
When talking about Auburn, it’s pretty simple; they hit the ball a lot better than they pitch it. They are second in the SEC in home runs and second to last in strikeouts. They’re pretty much everything you’d want from an offense— they are capable of hitting for serious power, they hit for average and they don’t strike out very often. With Ryan Bliss, Tyler Miller, and Steven Williams all having over 13 HR, you’re going to find it hard to catch a break in this lineup. Just one player, Judd Ward, regularly finds himself in the lineup while batting under .250 this season. In his Auburn career, he’s a .260 hitter, so he is capable of more.
If Mizzou is going to get it done against this lineup, the key will be damage control. Auburn’s lineup is likely going to get its fair share off Mizzou pitchers — everyone has, it seems — but if they can keep it to a reasonable amount, the Tigers (ours) should be able to feast on the sub-par Auburn pitching staff.
Here’s the Auburn team batting statistics for this year in more detail:
The Auburn pitching flat out stinks. They have the second worst ERA in the conference behind - get this - Mizzou. And yes, one might ask how can you bash another team’s pitching staff when Mizzou’s has been even worse. To that I say, bad is still bad even when you compare it with something worse. (Editor’s note: very true)
Anyways, let’s dive into who Mizzou’s hitters will be facing. On Thursday, it’ll be Jack Owen, who is 1-4 with a 5.26 ERA. If the Tigers can’t jump on that guy, they don’t deserve to be in the SEC Tournament. Owen’s last three starts have been serviceable, but with their season on the line, the Tiger bats should come out hot after scoring 16 against Mississippi State and 8 against kU (even if they lost).
On Saturday, Auburn turns to Richard Fitts, who poses an even bigger opportunity for the Tigers. In 3 of his last 4 starts, he hasn’t even gotten out of the third inning and surrendered more runs than innings pitched each time. To be fair to Fitts, he did wedge in a gem against LSU between the other three clunkers.
On Sunday, both starters are TBD, and the Auburn bullpen is also below average. Of their qualifying relievers with 10 innings or more on the season, only one has an ERA less than 4. The Tigers should be all over their opposing namesake on Sunday even more than the previous two days.
This is for each team to continue their season, so I expect both teams to come out ready to play, and that means high-scoring games. Neither team can pitch, and while Auburn has proven they sure can hit, Mizzou’s offense has been red-hot as of late. There could be a couple of games this series where both teams score in double figures due to lack of pitching on both sides.
For Mizzou, in order to win, they need to forget Texas A&M altogether. They need their arms to have their best stuff, and that means great starts from Kush, Halverson, and Hise, and Miles and Veinbergs will need to be delivering out of the pen. It’s all hands on deck this weekend because there really is no tomorrow.
Win, and you may get to play baseball again. Lose, and some might hang their cleats up for the last time.
Thursday | 6:30 pm | SEC Network +
Friday | 6:30 pm | SEC Network +
Saturday | 2 pm | SEC Network +